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THE 


Sprit  nA  grants  nf  %  Christian  Jdigim. 


VISCOUNT  DE  CHATEAUBRIAND, 

o/  "IVarefc  tn  Greece  and  Palestine,"  "The  Martyrs,"  "Atala,"  tte.  etc.   x(^ 


JJefcr  anb  dLompUte  translation  from  % 


WITH    A 


Preface,  Biographical  Notice  of  the  Anthor,  and  Critical  and  Explanatory  Notee. 

BY  CHARLES   I.  WHITE,  D.D. 

,        W.  fttAJ, 
,       WWW 


NINTH     RBVIBED    EDITION. 


BALTIMORE : 
PUBLISHED   BY  JOHN   MURPHY  &  CO. 

PHILADELPHIA J.  B.  LIPPINCOTT  &  CO. 

1871. 


6280 


Entered  according  to  Act  of  Congress,  in  the  year  1856,  by 
JOHN    MURPHY    &    CO. 

in  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  District  Court  of  the  United  States  for  the 
District  of  Maryland. 


PREFACE. 


IN  1798,  while  the  author  of  this  work  was  residing 
in  London,  exiled  from  France  by  the  horrors  of  the 
Revolution,  and  gaining  a  subsistence  by  the  produc 
tions  of  his  pen,  which  were  tinctured  with  the  skep 
ticism  and  infidelity  of  the  times,  he  was  informed  of 
the  death  of  his  venerable  mother,  whose  last  days 
had  been  embittered  by  the  recollection  of  his  errors, 
and  who  had  left  him,  in  her  dying  moments,  a  solemn 
admonition  to  retrace  his  steps.  The  thought  of  having 
saddened  the  old  age  of  that  tender  and  religious 
parent  who  had  borne  him  in  her  womb,  overwhelmed 
him  with  confusion ;  the  tears  gushed  from  his  eyes, 
and  the  Christian  sentiments  in  which  he  had  been 
educated  returned  under  the  impulses  of  a  generous 
and  affectionate  heart:  "I  wept  and  I  believed"  But 
the  trouble  which  harassed  his  mind  did  not  entirely 
vanish,  until  he  had  formed  the  plan  of  redeeming  his 
first  publications  by  the  consecration  of  his  splendid 
abilities  to  the  honor  of  religion.  Such  was  the  origin 
of  the  Genius  of  Christianity,  in  the  composition  of  which 
he  labored  with  "all  the  ardor  of  a  son  who  was  erect 
ing  a  mausoleum  to  his  mother."* 

*  Memoires  (f  Outre- Tombe,  vol.  i. 


6  PREFACE. 

When  this  work  made  its  appearance,  in  1802,  in 
fidelity  was  the  order  of  the  day  in  France.  That 
beautiful  country,  whose  people  had  once  held  so  pro 
minent  a  rank  among  the  Catholic  nations  of  Europe, 
presented  but  a  vast  scene  of  ruins,  the  fatal  conse 
quences  of  that  systematic  war  which  impious  sophists 
had  waged  against  religion  during  the  latter  half  of 
the  eighteenth  century.  The  Revolution  had  swept 
away  in  its  desolating  course  all  the  landmarks  of  the 
ancient  society.  Churches  and  altars  had  been  over 
thrown  ;  the  priests  of  God  had  been  massacred,  or 
driven  into  exile ;  asylums  of  virtue  and  learning  had 
been  profaned  and  laid  waste ;  every  thing  august  and 
sacred  had  disappeared.  In  the  political  and  social 
sphere  the  same  terrific  destruction  was  witnessed. 
After  a  succession  of  convulsions,  which  had  over 
thrown  the  Bourbon  dynasty,  and  during  which  the 
passions  of  men  had  rioted  amid  the  wildest  anarchy 
and  the  most  savage  acts  of  bloodshed,  the  chief  au 
thority  became  vested  in  a  consul  whose  mission  was 
to  re-establish  social  order,  and  whose  efforts  in  that 
direction  were  gladly  welcomed  by  the  nation,  grown 
weary  and  sick,  as  it  were,  of  the  dreadful  calamities 
that  had  come  upon  them.  It  was  an  auspicious  mo 
ment  for  the  fearless  champion  of  Christianity,  to 
herald  the  claims  of  that  religion  whose  doctrines  con 
stitute  the  only  safe  guide  of  the  governing  and  the 
governed.  But,  among  a  people  who  to  a  great  extent 
had  conceived  a.profound  antipathy  to  the  theory  and 
practice  of  religion,  by  the  artful  and  persevering 
efforts  of  an  infidel  philosophy  to  render  the  Christian 
name  an  object  of  derision  and  contempt,  a  new 


PREFACE.  7 

method  of  argument  was  necessary  to  obtain  even  a 
hearing  in  the  case,  much  more  to  bring  back  the 
popular  mind  to  a  due  veneration  for  the  Church  and 
her  teachings.  It  would  have  been  useless,  when  the 
great  principles  of  religious  belief  were  disregarded, 
when  the  authority  of  ages  was  set  at  naught,  to  un 
dertake  the  vindication  of  Christianity  by  the  exhi 
bition  of  those  external  evidences  which  demonstrate 
its  divine  origin.  Men  had  become  deluded  with  the 
idea  that  the  Christian  religion  had  been  a  serious  ob 
stacle  in  the  way  of  human  progress;  that,  having 
been  invented  in  a  barbarous  age,  its  dogmas  were 
absurd  and  its  ceremonies  ridiculous;  that  it  tended 
to  enslave  the  mind,  opposed  the  arts  and  sciences, 
and  was  in  general  hostile  to  the  liberty  of  man  and 
the  advancement  of  civilization.  It  was  necessary, 
therefore,  in  order  to  refute  these  errors,  to  exhibit 
the  intrinsic  excellence  and  beauty  of  the  Christian 
religion,  to  show  its  analogy  with  the  dictates  of  na 
tural  reason,  its  admirable  correspondence  with  the  in 
stincts  of  the  human  heart,  its  ennobling  influence 
upon  literature  and  the  arts,  its  beneficent  effects  upon 
society,  its  wonderful  achievements  for  the  civilization 
and  happiness  of  nations,  its  infinite  superiority  over 
all  other  systems,  in  elevating  the  character,  improving 
the  condition,  and  answering  the  wants  of  man,  under 
all  the  circumstances  of  life ;  in  a  word,  to  show,  ac 
cording  to  the  design  of  our  author,  not  that  the  Chris 
tian  religion  is  excellent  because  it  comes  from  G-od,  hit  that 
it  comes  from  God  because  it  is  excellent. 

For  this  purpose,  he  passes  in  review  the  principal 


8  PREFACE. 

mysteries  and  tenets  of  Christianity,  draws  a  compa 
rison  between  Christian  and  pagan  literature,  displays 
the  advantages  which  painting,  sculpture,  and  the 
other  arts,  have  derived  from  religious  inspiration,  its 
accordance  with  the  scenes  of  nature  and  the  senti 
ments  of  the  heart,  describes  the  wonders  of  mis 
sionary  enterprise,  the  extensive  services  of  the  mo 
nastic  orders,  and  concludes  with  a  general  survey  of 
the  immense  blessings  conferred  upon  mankind  by 
the  Christian  Church.  In  displaying  this  magnificent 
picture  to  the  contemplation  of  the  reader,  the  author 
employs  all  the  resources  of  ancient  and  modern 
learning,  the  information  derived  from  extensive 
travel  and  a  profound  study  of  human  nature,  and 
those  ornaments  of  style  which  the  loftiest  poetry  and 
the  most  glowing  fancy  can  place  at  his  command. 
In  turn  the  philosopher,  the  historian,  the  traveller, 
and  the  poet,  he  adopts  every  means  of  promoting  the 
great  end  in  view, — to  enamor  the  heart  of  man  with 
the  charms  of  religion,  and  to  prove  that  she  is  emi 
nently  the  source  of  all  that  is  "lovely  and  of  good  re 
port,"  of  all  that  is  beautiful  and  sublime.  Among  all 
the  works  of  Chateaubriand,  none,  perhaps,  is  so  re 
markable  as  this  for  that  combination  of  impressive 
eloquence,  descriptive  power,  and  pathetic  sentiment, 
which  imparts  such  a  fascination  to  his  style,  and 
which  caused  Napoleon  I.  to  observe,  that  it  was  "  not 
the  style  of  Racine,  but  of  a  prophet ;  that  nature  had 
given  him  the  sacred  flame,  and  it  breathed  in  all  his 
works." 

The  publication  of  such  a  work  at  such  a  time  could 
riot  but  enlist  against  it  a  powerful  opposition  among 


PREFACE. 

the  advocates  of  infidelity ;  but  its  superior  excellence 
and  brilliant  character  obtained  an  easy  triumph  over 
the  critics  who  had  attempted  to  crush  its  influence. 
In  two  years  it  had  passed  through  seven  editions; 
and  such  was  the  popularity  it  acquired,  that  it  was 
translated  into  the  Italian,  German,  and  Russian  lan 
guages.  In  France,  the  friends  of  religion  hailed  it  as 
the  olive  branch  of  peace  and  hope — a  messenger  of 
heaven,  sent  forth  to  solace  the  general  affliction,  to 
heal  the  wounds  of  so  many  desolate  hearts,  after  the 
frightful  deluge  of  impiety  which  had  laid  waste  that 
unfortunate  country.  On  the  other  hand,  the  waver 
ing  in  faith,  and  even  they  who  had  been  perverted  by 
the  sophistry  of  the  times,  were  drawn  to  a  profitable 
investigation  of  religion,  by  the  new  and  irresistible 
charms  that  had  been  thrown  around  it.  It  cannot  be 
denied  that  the  Genius  of  Christianity  exerted  a  most 
powerful  and  beneficial  influence  in  Europe  for  the 
good  of  religion  and  the  improvement  of  literature. 
The  eloquent  Balmes  has  well  said  :  "  The  mysterious 
hand  which  governs  the  universe  seems  to  hold  in  re 
serve,  for  every  great  crisis  of  society,  an  extraordinary 

man Atheism  was  bathing  France  in  a  sea  of 

tears  and  blood.  An  unknown  man  silently  traverses 
the  ocean,  ....  returns  to  his  native  soil."  .... 
He  finds  there  "  the  ruins  and  ashes  of  ancient  temples 
devoured  by  the  flames  or  destroyed  by  violence ;  the 
remains  of  a  multitude  of  innocent  victims,  buried  in 
the  graves  which  formerly  afforded  an  asylum  to  per- 
secuted  Christians.  He  observes,  however,  that  some 
thing  is  in  agitation :  he  sees  that  religion  is  about  to 
redescend  upon  France,  like  consolation  upon  the  un- 


10  PREFACE. 

fortunate,  or  the  breath  of  life  upon  a  corpse.  From 
that  moment  he  hears  on  all  sides  a  concert  of  celestial 
harmony ;  the  inspirations  of  meditation  and  solitude 
revive  and  ferment  in  his  great  soul ;  transported  out 
of  himself,  and  ravished  into  ecstasy,  he  sings  with  a 
tongue  of  fire  the  glories  of  religion,  he  reveals  the 
delicacy  and  beauty  of  the  relations  between  religion 
and  nature,  and  in  surpassing  language  he  points  out 
to  astonished  men  the  mysterious  golden  chain  which 
connects  the  heavens  and  the  earth.  That  man  was 
Chateaubriand. ' '  * 

The  eloquent  work  here  referred  to  must,  we  may 
easily  conceive,  be  productive  of  good  in  any  age  and 
in  any  country.  Although  the  peculiar  circumstances 
that  prompted  its  execution  and  proved  so  favorable 
to  its  first  success  have  passed  away,  the  vast  amount 
of  useful  information  which  it  embodies  will  always 
be  consulted  with  pleasure  and  advantage  by  the 
scholar  and  the  general  reader;  while  the  "vesture  of 
beauty  and  holiness"  which  it  has  thrown  round  the 
Church  cannot  fail  to  be  extensively  instrumental  in 
awakening  a  respectful  attention  to  her  indisputable 
claims.  One  of  the  saddest  evils  of  our  age  and 
country  is  the  spirit  of  indifferentism  which  infects  all 
classes  of  society;  and  the  question,  among  a  vast 
number,  is  not  what  system  of  Christianity  is  true,  but 
whether  it  is  worth  their  while  to  make  any  system 
the  subject  of  their  serious  inquiry.  Such  minds, 
wholly  absorbed  by  the  considerations  of  this  world, 
would  recoil  from  a  doctrinal  or  theological  essay  with 

*  Protestantism  and  Catholicity  Compared,  $*c.,  p.  71. 


PREFACE.  11 

almost  the  same  aversion  as  would  be  excited  by  the 
most  nauseous  medicine.  But  deck  religious  truth  in 
the  garb  of  fancy,  attended  by  the  muses,  and  dis 
pensing  blessings  on  every  side,  and  {he  most  apa 
thetic  soul  will  be  arrested  by  the  beauteous  spectacle, 
as  the  child  is  attracted  and  won  by  the  maternal 
smile.  Among  unbelievers  and  sectarians  of  different 
complexions,  who  discard  all  mysteries,  who  consult 
only  their  reason  and  feelings  as  the  source  and  rule 
of  religious  belief,  who  look  upon  Catholicism  as 
something  effete,  and  unsuited  to  the  enlightenment  of 
the  age,  this  work  will  be  read  with  the  most  bene 
ficial  results.  It  will  warm  into  something  living, 
consistent,  and  intelligible,  the  cold  and  dreamy  specu 
lations  of  the  rationalist;  it  will  indicate  the  grand 
fountain-head  whence  flow  in  all  their  fervor  and  effi 
ciency  those  noble  sentiments  which  for  the  modern 
philosopher  and  philanthropist  have  but  a  theoretical 
existence.  It  will  hold  up  to  view  the  inexhaustible 
resources  of  Catholicism,  in  meeting  all  the  exigencies 
of  society,  all  the  wants  of  man,  and  triumphantly 
vindicate  her  undoubted  claims  to  superiority  over  all 
other  systems  in  advancing  the  work  of  true  civili 
zation. 

It  was  to  establish  this  truth  that  Balmes  composed 
his  splendid  work  on  the  Comparative  Influence  of  Pro 
testantism  and  Catholicity,  and  Digby  described  the  Ages 
of  Faith,  and  the  Compitum,  or  Meeting  of  the  Ways. 
These  productions  are  of  a  kindred  class  with  the 
Genius  of  Christianity,  and  the  former  embraces  to  a 
certain  extent  the  same  range  of  subject,  having  in 
view  to  display  the  internal  evidences  of  Catholicity, 


12  PREFACE. 

as  derived  from  its  beneficial  influence  upon  European 
civilization.  But  Chateaubriand  was  the  first  to  enter 
the  field  against  the  enemies  of  religion,  clad  in  that 
effective  armor  which  is  peculiarly  adapted  to  the  cir 
cumstances  of  modern  times.  "Without  pretending  in 
the  least  to  question  the  necessity  or  detract  from  the 
advantages  of  theological  discussion,  we  are  firmly 
convinced  that  the  mode  of  argument  adopted  by  our 
author  is,  in  general,  and  independently  of  the  prac 
tical  character  of  the  age  in  which  we  live,  the  tnost 
effectual  means  of  obtaining  for  the  Church  that  favor 
able  consideration  which  will  result  in  the  recognition 
of  her  divine  institution.  "The  foolish  man  hath  said 
in  his  heart,  there  is  no  God."*  The  disorder  of  the 
heart,  arising  partly  from  passion,  partly  from  preju 
dice,  shuts  out  from  the  mind  the  light  of  truth. 
Hence,  whoever  wins  the  heart  to  an  admiration  of  the 
salutary  influences  which  that  truth  has  exerted  in 
every  age  for  the  happiness  of  man,  will  have  gained 
an  essential  point,  and  will  find  little  difficulty  in  con 
vincing  the  understanding,  or  securing  a  profitable 
attention  to  the  grave  expositions  of  the  theologian 
and  the  controversialist. 

Such  were  the  considerations  that  led  to  the  present 
translation  of  the  Genius  of  Christianity.  The  work 
was  presented  in  an  English  dress  for  the  first  time  in 
England;  and  the  same  edition,  reprinted  in  this 
country  in  1815,  would  have  been  republished  now,  if 
it  had  not  been  discovered  that  the  translator  had 
taken  unwarrantable  liberties  with  the  original,  omit- 


Psalm  xiv.  1. 


P  R  E  I  A  C  B.  13 


ting  innumerable  passages  and  sometimes  whole  chap 
ters,  excluding  sentences  and  paragraphs  of  the  highest 
importance,  those  particularly  which  gave  to  the  au 
thor's  argument  its  peculiar  force  in  favor  of  Catholi 
cism.  Such,  in  fact,  was  the  number  and  nature  of 
these  omissions,  that,  with  the  introduction  of  occa 
sional  notes,  they  detracted,  in  a  great  measure,  from 
the  author's  purpose,  and  gave  to  a  latitudinarian 
Christianity  an  undue  eminence,  which  he  never  con 
templated.  With  these  important  exceptions,  and 
various  inaccuracies  in  rendering  the  text,  the  transla 
tion  of  Mr.  Shoberl  has  considerable  merit.  In  pre 
paring  the  present  edition  of  the  work,  we  have  fur 
nished  the  entire  matter  of  the  original  production, 
with  the  exception  of  two  or  three  notes  in  the  Ap 
pendix,  which  have  been  condensed,  as  being  equally 
acceptable  to  the  reader  in  that  form.  Nearly  one 
hundred  pages  have  been  supplied  which  were  never 
before  presented  to  the  public  in  English.  In  render 
ing  the  text,  we  have  examined  and  compared  different 
French  editions ;  but  there  is  little  variation  between 
that  of  1854  and  its  predecessors.  Where  the  sense 
of  the  author  appeared  obscure  or  erroneous,  we  have 
introduced  critical  and  explanatory  notes.  Those 
marked  S  and  K  have  been  retained  from  Mr. 
Shoberl's  translation ;  those  marked  T  were  prepared 
for  this  edition.  In  offering  this  translation  to  the 
public,  we  take  pleasure  in  stating  that  we  have  made 
a  free  use  of  that  to  which  we  have  alluded,  especially 
in  the  latter  portion  of  the  work.  We  have  also  con 
sulted  the  translation  by  the  Rev.  E.  O'Donnel,  which 
was  issued  in  Paris  in  1854.  In  that  edition,  however, 
2 


14  PREFACE. 


nearly  one-half  of  the  original  production  has  been 
omitted,  and  the  order  of  the  contents  has  been  en 
tirely  changed. 

In  conclusion,  we  present  this  work  to  the  public 
with  the  hope  that  it  may  render  the  name  of  its  illus 
trious  author  more  extensively  known  among  us,  and 
may  awaken  a  more  general  interest  in  the  study  of 
that  religion  which,  as  Montesquieu  observes,  "while 
it  seems  only  to  have  in  view  the  felicity  of  the  other 
life,  constitutes  the  happiness  of  this." 

THE  TRANSLATOR. 

Pikesvillt,  Md.   April,  1856. 


CONTENTS. 


NOTICE  or  THE  VISCOUNT  DE  CHATEAUBRIAND 23 

PART   I. 

DOGMAS  AND  TENETS. 
BOOK  I. 

MYSTERIES   AND    SACRAMENTS. 

?AQK 

CHAP.  I.  Introduction *3 

1L  Of  the  Nature  of  Mysteries 51 

III.  Of  the  Christian  Mysteries— The  Trinity 53 

IV.  Of  the  Redemption 59 

V.  Of  the  Incarnation 66 

VI.  Of  the  Sacraments— Baptism  and  Peuance 67 

VII.  Of  the  Holy  Communion 71 

VIII.  Confirmation,  Holy  Orders,  and  Matrimony.  75 

IX.  The  same  subject  continued — Holy  Orders 82 

X.  Matrimony 85 

XL  Extreme  Unction 81 

BOOK  II. 

VIRTUES   AND    MORAL  LAWS. 

CHAP.  1.  Vices  and  Virtues  according  to  Eeligion 93 

II.  Of  Faith 95 

III.  Of  Hope  and  Charity 97 

IV.  Of  the  Moral  Laws,  or  the  Ten  Commandments 99 

BOOK  III. 

THE  TRUTHS  OF  THE  SCRIPTURES — THE  PALL  OF  MAN. 

CHAP.  I.  The  Superiority  of  the  History  of  Moses  to  all  other  Cosmogonies  107 

II.  The  Fall  of  Man — The  Serpent — Remarks  on  a  Hebrew  "Word...  110 

III    Primitive  Constitution  of  Man — New  proof  of  Original  Sin 114 

15 


CONTENTS. 


BOOK  IV. 

CONTINUATION    OF    THE    TRUTHS    OF    SCRIPTURE OBJECTIONS 

AGAINST    THE    SYSTEM    OF    MOSES. 

PAOI 

CHAP.  I.  Chronology 1 

II.  Logography  and  Historical  Facts 1' 

III.  Astronomy 

IV.  Continuation  of  the  preceding  subject— Natural  History— The 

Deluge 133 

V.  Youth  and  Old  Age  of  the  Earth 136 


BOOK  V. 

THE   EXISTENCE    OF  GOD    DEMONSTRATED   BY   THE  WONDERS    OP 
NATURE. 

CHAP.   I.  Object  of  this  Book 133 

II.  A  General  Survey  of  the  Universe 139 

III.  Organization  of  Animals  and  Plants 141 

IV.  Instincts  of  Animals 145 

V.  Song  of  Birds — Made  for  Man — Laws  relative  to  the  cries  of 

Animals 147 

VL  Nests  of  Birds 150 

VII.  Migrations  of  Birds— Aquatic  Birds— Their   Habits— Goodness 

of  Providence 152 

VIII.  Sea-Fowl — In  what  manner  serviceable  to  Man — In  ancient  times 

Migrations  of  Birds  served  as  a  Calendar  to  the  husbandman  156 

IX.  The  subject  of  Migrations  concluded — Quadrupeds 160 

X.  Amphibious  Animals  and  Reptiles 163 

XL  Of  Plants  and  their  Migrations 188 

XII.  Two  Views  of  Nature 170 

XIII.  Physical  Man 174 

XIV.  Love  of  our  Native  Country 177 


BOOK  VI. 

THE   IMMORTALITY    OF   THE    SOUL   PROVED   BY   THE    MORAL 
LAW    AND    THE    FEELINGS. 

CHAP.  I.  Desire  of  Happlc ess  in  Man JS4 

II.  Remorse  and  Conscience 187 

IIL  There  can  be  no  Morality  if  there  is  no  Future  State— Presump 
tion  in  favor  of  the  Immortality  of  the  Soul  deduced  from 

the  Respect  of  Man  for  Tombs 190 

IV.  Of  certain  Objections 191 

V.  Danger  and  Inutility  of  Atheism 196 


CONTENTS.  17 


PAQH 

VI.  The  conclusion  of  the  Doctrines  of  Christianity— State  of  Pu 
nishments  and  Rewards  in  a  Future  Life— Elysium  of  the 

Ancients 2( 

VII.  The  Last  Judgment 2I 

VIII.  Happiness  of  the  Righteous 2°7 


PART   II. 

THE  POETIC  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

BOOK  I. 
GENERAL   SURVEY   OF   CHRISTIAN   EPIC   POEMS. 

CHAP.  I.  The  Poetic  of  Christianity  is  divided  into  Three  Branches:— 
Poetry,  the  Fine  Arts,  and  Literature — The  Six  Books  of 

this  Second  Part  treat  in  an  especial  manner  of  Poetry 210 

II.  General  Survey  of  the  Poems  in  which  the  Marvellous  of  Chris 
tianity  supplies  the  place  of   Mythology— The  Inferno  of 

Dante — The  Jerusalem  Delivered  of  Tasso 2 

ILL  Paradise  Lost 215 

IV.  Of  some  French  and  Foreign  Poems 2: 

V.  TheHenriad 226 

BOOK  II. 

OF   POETRY   CONSIDERED   IN   ITS   RELATIONS   TO   MAN. 

Characters. 

CHA.P.  I.  Natural  Characters 2! 

II.  The  Husband  and  Wife— Ulysses  and  Penelope 2; 

III.  The  Husband  and  Wife  continued — Adam  and  Eve 236 

IV.  The  Father— Priam 242 

V.  Continuation  of  the  Father — Lusigmin 245 

VI.  The  Mother — Andromache 247 

VII.  The  Son— Gusman 250 

VIII.  The  Daughter— Iphigenia  and  Zara 253 

IX.  Social  Characters— The  Priest 256 

X.  Continuation  of  the  Priest — The  Sibyl — Jehoiada. — Parallel  be 
tween  Virgil  and  Racine 257 

XI.  The  Warrior — Definition  of  the  Beautiful  Ideal 262 

XII.  The  Warrior  continued 266 

2*  B 


18  CONTENTS. 


BOOK  III. 

OF   POETRY    CONSIDERED    IN    ITS    RELATIONS    TO    MAN THE 

SUBJECT    CONTINUED. 

The  Passions. 

PAOI 

CHAP.  I.  Christianity  has  changed  the  Relations  of  the  Passions  by  chang 
ing  the  Basis  of  Vice  and  Virtue 269 

II.  Impassioned  Love — Dido 272 

III.  Continuation  of  the  preceding  subject — The  Phaedra  of  Racine..  275 

IV.  Continuation  of  the  preceding  subject — Julia  d'Etange — Clemen 

tina ' 277 

V.  Continuation  of  the  preceding  subject — Eloisa 280 

VI.  Rural  Love — The  Cyclop  and  Galatea  of  Theocritus 285 

VII.  Continuation  of  the  preceding  subject— Paul  and  Virginia 287 

VIII.  The  Christian  Religion  itself  considered  as  a  Passion 291 

IX.  Of  the  Unsettled  State  of  the  Passions ,..  2U6 


BOOK  IV. 

OF  THE  MARVELLOUS;    OR,  OF  POETRY  IN  ITS  RELATIONS  TO 
SUPERNATURAL  BEINGS. 

CHAP.  I.  Mythology  diminished  the  Grandeur  of  Nature— The  Ancients 

had  no  Descriptive  Poetry  properly  so  called 299 

II.  Of  Allegory 303 

III.  Historical  part  of  Descriptive  Poetry  among  the  Moderns 305 

IV.  Have  the  Divinities  of  Paganism,  in  a  poetical  point  of  view,  the 

superiority  over  the  Christian  Divinities? : 309 

V.  Character  of  the  True  God 312 

VI.  Of  the  Spirits  of  Darkness 314 

VII.  Of  the  Saints "m  316 

VIII.  Of  the  Angels '.'.'  319 

IX.  Application  of  the  Principles  established  in  the  preceding  chap 
ters—Character  of  Satan 32] 

X.  Poetical  Machinery— Venus  in  the  woods  of  Carthage— Raphael 

in  the  bowers  of  Eden 324 

XL  Dream  of  ^Eneas— Dream  of  Athalie 326 

XII.  Poetical  Machinery   continued — Journeys   of    Homer's  gods — 

Satan's  expedition  in  quest  of  the  New  Creation 330 

XIII.  The  Christian  Hell 335 

XIV.  Parallel  between  Hell  and  Tartarus— Entrance  of  Avernus— 

Dante's    gate    of    Hell — Dido — Francisca    d'Arimino Tor 
ments  of  the  damned 334 

XV.  Purgatory 3->o 

XVI.  Paradise 


CONTENTS.  19 


BOOK   V. 

THE    BIBLE   AND    HOMER. 
CHAP.  I.  Of  the  Scriptures  and  their  Excellence 


II.  Of  the  three  principal  styles  of  Scripture  ..............................  345 

III.  Parallel  between  the  Bible  and  Homer  —  Terms  of  Comparison...  352 

IV.  Continuation  of  the  Parallel  betweea  the  Bible  and  Homer- 

Examples  .................................................................  358 


PART    III. 

THE   FINE  ARTS  AND   LITERATURE. 

BOOK    I. 
THE   FINE   ARTS. 

CHAP.  L  Music — Of  the  Influence  of  Christianity  upon  Music 370 

II.  TUe  Gregorian  fhant 3^2 

Til.  Historical  Painting  among  the  Moderns .  375 

IV.  Of  the  Subjects  of  Pictures 378 

V.  Sculpture 3 

VI.  Architecture— Hotel  des  Invalides 3! 

VII.  Versailles 3! 

VIII.  Gothic  Churches 384 

BOOK  II. 

PHILOSOPHY. 

CHAP.  I.  Astronomy  and  Mathematics 2 

II.  Chemistry  and  Natural  History 39fl 

III.  Christian  Philosophers — Metaphysicians 404 

IV.  Christian  Philosophers  continued — Political  Writers 407 

V.  Moralists— La  Bruyere 408 

VI.  Moralists  continued— Pascal 411 


20  CONTENTS. 

BOOK  III. 

HISTORY. 

PAO« 

CHAP.  I.  Of  Christianity  as  it  relates  to  the  Manner  of  Writing  History..  417 
II.  Of  the  General  Causes  which  have  prevented  Modern  Writers 
from  succeeding  in  History— First  Cause,  the  Beauties  of  the 
Ancient  Subjects. • 419 

III.  Continuation  of  the  preceding— Second  Cause,the  Ancients  have 

exhausted  all  the  Historical  styles,  except  the  Christian  style  422 

IV.  Of  the  reasons  why  the  French  have  no  Historical  Works,  but 

only  Memoirs 425 

V.  Excellence  of  Modern  History ^ 

VI.  Voltaire  considered  as  an  Historian 4 

VII.  Philip  de  Commines  and  Rollin 4: 

VIII.  Bossuet  considered  as  an  Historian 433 


BOOK  IV. 

ELOQUENCE. 

CHAP.  I.  Of  Christianity  as  it  relates  to  Eloquence 437 

II.  Christian  Orators — Fathers  of  the  Church 439 

III.  Massiilon 445 

IV.  Bossuet  as  an  Orator r. 448 

V.  Infidelity  the  Principal  Cause  of  tho  decline  of  Taste  and  tho 

degeneracy  of  Genius 453 


BOOK  V. 

THE  HARMONIES  OF  THE  CHRISTIAN  RELIGION  WITH  THE  SCENES 
OF  NATURE  AND  THE  PASSIONS  OF  THE  HUMAN  HEART. 

CHAP.  I.  Division  of  the  Harmonies 459 

II.  Physical  Harmonies 459 

III.  Of  Ruins  in  General — Ruins  are  of  two  kinds 466 

IV.  Picturesque  Effect  of  Ruins— Ruins  of  Palmyra,  Egypt,  Ac 469 

V.  Ruins  of  Christian  Monuments 471 

VI.  Moral  Harmonies — Popular  Devotions •• 473 


CONTENTS.  2J 

PART  IV. 

WORSHIP. 
BOOK  I. 

CHURCHES,  ORNAMENTS,  SINGING,  PRAYERS,  ETC. 

PAGE 

CHAP.  I.  Of  Bells 479 

II.  Costume  of  the  Clergy  and  Ornaments  of  the  Church 481 

III.  Of  Singing  and  Prayer 483 

IV.  Solemnities  of  the  Church — Sunday  489 

V.  Explanation  of  the  Mass 491 

VI.  Ceremonies  and  Prayers  of  the  Mass 493 

VII.  Solemnity  of  Corpus  Christi 496 

VIII.  The  Rogation-Days ' 498 

IX.  Of  certain  Christian  Festivals — Epiphany — Christmas 500 

X.  Funerals — Funerals  of  the  Great 503 

XL  Funeral  of  the  Soldier,  the  Rich,  <fcc 505 

XII.  Of  the  Funeral-Service 507 

BOOK  II. 

TOMBS. 

CHAP.  I.  Ancient  Tombs— The  Egyptians 511 

II.  The  Greeks  and  Romans 512 

III.  Modern  Tombs— China  and  Turkey 513 

IV.  Caledonia  or  Ancient  Scotland 514 

V.  Otaheite 514 

VI.  Christian  Tombs 516 

VII.  Country  Churchyards 518 

VIII.  Tombs  in  Churches 520 

IX.  St.  Dennis 522 

BOOK  III. 

GENERAL  VIEW    OP   THE   CLERGY. 

CHAP.  I.  Of  Jesus  Christ  and  his  Life 526 

II.  Secular  Clergy — Hierarchy 531 

III.  Regular  Clergy — Origin  of  the  Monastic  Life 540 

IV.  The  Monastic  Constitutions 544 

V.  Manners  and  Life  of  the  Religious — Coptic  Monks,  Maronites,<fcc.  548 

VI.  The  subject  continued — Trappists — Carthusians — Sisters  of  St. 
Clare  —  Fathers  of  Redemption  —  Missionaries  —  Ladies  of 
Charity,  &c „ 55] 


£2  CONTENTS. 

BOOK  IV. 

MISSIONS. 

CHAP.  I.  General  Survey  of  the  Missions  ................................................       557 

II.  Missions  of  the  Levmt  ....................................  553 

III.  Missions  of  China..  ...............................................  5gg 

IV.  Missions  of  Paraguay  —  Conversion  of  the  Savages  .................  ..  571 

V.  Missions  of  Paraguay,  continued—  Christian  Republic—  Happi 

ness  of  the  Indians  ..........................................  57*, 

VI.  Missions  of  Guiana  ....................................... 

VII.  Missions  of  the  Antilles  ....................................  ....'  '  3g5 

VIII.  Missions  of  New  France  ........................................  ' 

IX.  Conclusion  of  the  Missions  ............................... 


BOOK  V. 

MILITARY    ORDERS    OR   CHIVALRY. 


CHAP. 


I.  Knights  of  Malta 600 

II.  The  Teutonic  Order .-..1«"1ZZ3IZ1™     ..   604 

III.  The  Knights  of  Calatrava  and  St.  Jago-of-the- Sword  in  Spain..  605 
IV.  Life  and  Manners  of  the  Knights gyg 


BOOK  VI. 

SERVICES   RENDERED    TO    MANKIND    BY   THE    CLERGY   AND    BY 
THE   CHRISTIAN    RELIGION    IN    GENERAL. 

CHAP.  I.  Immensity  of  the  Benefits  conferred  by  Christianity 619 

II.  Hospitals ..."...".!  6*0 

III.  Hotel-Dieu— Gray  Sisters ..'..........  626 

IV.  Foundling  Hospitals— Ladies  of  Charity— Acts  of  Beneficence..  630 
V.  Education— Schools— Colleges— Universities— Benedictines  and 

Jesuits g^2 

VI.  Popes  and  Court  of  Rome — Modern  Discoveries r> 

VII.  Agriculture "  g^ 

VIII.  Towns  and  Villages— Bridges— High-Roads ..rZ..... ............  647 

IX.  Arts,  Manufactures,  Commerce g=i 

X.  Civil  and  Criminal  Laws ...  55^ 

XL  Politics  and  Government 

XII.  General  Recapitulation 

XIII.  What  the  Present  State  of  Society  would  be  had  not  Chris 
tianity  appeared  in  the  World— Conjectures— Conclusion 668 

NOTES 

087 


NOTICE 


OF    THE 


VISCOUNT  DE  CHATEAUBRIAND.* 


RENE  FRANCIS  AUGUSTUS,  Viscount  de  Chateau 
briand,  was  born  at  Saint-Malo,  in  France,  on  the 
4th  of  September,  1768.  His  family,  on  the  paternal 
side,  one  of  the  most  ancient  in  Brittany,  descended 
in  a  direct  line,  by  the  barons  of  Chateaubriand,  from 
Thierri,  grandson  of  Alain  III.,  who  was  the  sovereign 
of  the  Armorican  peninsula.  Having  commenced  his 
classical  studies  at  the  college  of  Dol,  he  continued 
them  at  Rennes,  where  he  had  Moreau  for  a  rival, 
and  completed  them  at  Dinan  in  the  company  of 
Broussais.  Of  a  proud  disposition,  and  sensitive  to  a 
reprimand,  young  Chateaubriand  distinguished  him 
self  by  a  very  precocious  intellect  and  an  extraor 
dinary  memory.  His  father,  having  destined  him  for 
the  naval  profession,  sent  him  to  Brest  for  the  purpose 
of  passing  an  examination ;  but  having  remained 
some  time  without  receiving  his  commission,  he  re 
turned  to  Combourg,  and  manifested  some  inclination 
for  the  ecclesiastical  state.  Diverted,  however,  from 
this  project  by  the  reading  of  pernicious  books,  he 

*  Compiled  chiefly  from  an  article  in  Feller's  Dictionnaire  Historique. 

23 


24  NOTICE   OF   THE 


exchanged  his  sentiments  of  piety  for  those  of  infi 
delity,  and  in  his  solitary  situation,  with  the  passions 
for  his  guides,  he  became  the  sport  of  the  most  ex 
travagant  fancies.  Weary  of  life,  he  had  even  to 
struggle  against  the  temptation  of  committing  suicide ; 
but  he  was  relieved  from  these  sombre  thoughts  by 
the  influence  of  his  eldest  brother,  the  Count  of  Oom- 
bourg,  who  obtained  for  him  a  lieutenancy  in  the  regi 
ment  of  Navarre.  After  the  death  of  his  father,  in 
1786,  he  left  his  military  post  at  Cambrai,  to  look  after 
his  inheritance,  and  settled  with  his  family  at  Paris. 
Through  the  means  of  his  brother,  who  had  married 
Mademoiselle  de  Rosambo,  grand-daughter  of  Males- 
herbes,  he  was  introduced  into  society  and  presented 
at  court,  which  obtained  for  him  at  once  the  rank  of  a 
captain  of  cavalry.  It  was  designed  to  place  him  in 
the  order  of  Malta ;  but  Chateaubriand  now  began  to 
evince  his  literary  predilections.  He  cultivated  the 
society  of  Ginguene,  Lebrun,  Champfort,  Delisle  de 
Salles,  and  was  much  gratified  in  having  been  per 
mitted,  through  them,  to  publish  in  the  Almanack  des 
Muses  a  poem  which  he  had  composed  in  the  forest 
of  Combourg.  In  1789  he  attended  the  session  of  the 
States  of  Brittany,  and  took  the  sword  in  order  to 
repulse  the  mob  that  besieged  the  hall  of  assembly. 
On  his  return  to  Paris,  after  the  opening  of  the  States- 
general,  he  witnessed  the  first  scenes  of  the  revolu 
tion,  and  in  1790  he  quit  the  service  on  the  occasion 
of  a  revolt  that  had  taken  place  in  the  regiment  of 
Navarre.  Alarmed  by  the  popular  excesses,  and  hav 
ing  a  great  desire  to  travel,  he  embarked  in  January, 
1791,  for  the  United  States  of  America.  He  hoped, 


VISCOUNT  DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  2r> 


with  the  advice  and  support  of  Malesherbes,  to  dis 
cover  a  north-west  passage  to  the  Polar  Sea,  which 
Hearn  had  already  descried  in  1772.  A  few  days  after 
his  arrival  at  Baltimore,  he  proceeded  to  Philadelphia, 
and  having  a  letter  of  introduction  to  General  Wash 
ington  from  Colonel  Armand,  (Marquis  de  la  Rouerie,) 
who  had  served  in  the  war  of  American  Independence, 
he  lost  no  time  in  calling  on  the  President.  Washing 
ton  received  him  with  great  kindness  and  with  his 
usual  simplicity  of  manners.  On  the  following  day, 
Chateaubriand  had  the  honor  of  dining  with  the  Pre 
sident,  whom  he  never  saw  afterward,  hut  whose  cha 
racter  left  an  indelible  impression  upon  his  mind. 
"There  is  a  virtue,"  he  says,  "in  the  look  of  a  great 
man."*  On  leaving  Philadelphia,  he  visited  ISTew 
York,  Boston,  and  the  other  principal  cities  of  the 
Union,  where  he  was  surprised  to  find  in  the  manners 
of  the  people  the  cast  of  modern  times,  instead  of  that 
ancient  character  which  he  had  pictured  to  himself. 
From  the  haunts  of  civilized  life  he  turned  to  those 
wild  regions  which  were  then  chiefly  inhabited  by  the 
untutored  savage,  and  as  he  travelled  from  forest  to 
forest,  from  tribe  to  tribe,  his  poetical  mind  feasted 
upon  the  grandeur  and  beauty  of  that  virginal  nature 
which  presented  itself  to  his  contemplation.  At  the 
falls  of  Niagara  he  was  twice  in  the  most  imminent 
danger  of  losing  his  life,  by  his  enthusiastic  desire  to 
enjoy  the  most  impressive  view  of  the  wonderful 
cataract. 

While  thus  setting  to  profit  his  opportunities  of  ob- 

*  Mfinioirex  d* Oiifre-Tomlie. 


26  NOTICE  OF  THE 

servation  in  the  new  world,  Chateaubriand  learned 
from  the  public  prints  the  flight  and  capture  jf  Louis 
XVI.,  and  the  progress  of  the  French  emigration. 
He  at  once  resolved  upon  returning  to  his  native 
country.  After  a  narrow  escape  from  shipwreck,  he 
arrived  at  Havre  in  the  beginning  of  1792,  whence  he 
proceeded  to  St.  Malo,  where  he  had  the  happiness  of 
again  embracing  his  mother.  Here  also  he  formed  a 
matrimonial  alliance  with  Mademoiselle  de  Lavigne,  a 
lady  of  distinction.  A  few  months  after,  in  company 
with  his  brother,  he  set  out  for  Germany  with  a  view 
to  join  the  army  of  French  nobles  who  had  rallied  in 
defence  of  their  country.  At  the  siege  of  Thionville, 
his  life  was  saved  by  the  manuscript  of  Atala,  a  literary 
production  which  he  carried  about  him,  and  which 
turned  a  shot  from  the  enemy.  He  was,  however, 
severely  wounded  in  the  thigh  on  the  same  occasion, 
and,  to  add  to  his  misfortunes,  he  was  attacked  with 
the  small-pox.  In  this  suffering  condition  he  under 
took  a  journey  of  six  hundred  miles  on  foot,  and  was 
more  than  once  reduced  to  the  very  verge  of  the  grave 
by  the  pressure  of  disease  and  the  extraordinary  priva 
tions  he  was  compelled  to  undergo.  One  evening  he 
stretched  himself  to  rest  in  a  ditch,  from  which  he 
never  expected  to  rise.  In  this  situation  he  was  dis 
covered  by  a  party  attached  to  the  Prince  of  Ligno, 
who  threw  him  into  a  wagon  and  carried  him  to  the 
walls  of  Namur.  As  he  made  his  way  through  that 
city,  crawling  on  his  knees  and  hands,  he  excited  the 
compassion  of  some  good  women  of  the  place,  who 
afforded  him  what  assistance  they  could.  Having  at 
length  reached  Brussels,  he  was  there  recognised  by 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  27 

his  brother,  who  happened  to  meet  him,  and  irom 
whom  he  received  every  aid  and  attention.  Though 
far  from  having  recovered  his  strength,  he  left  this 
place  for  Ostend,  where  he  embarked  in  a  fisherman's 
boat  for  the  Isle  of  Jersey.  Here  he  met  with  a  por 
tion  of  his  family  who  had  emigrated  from  France, 
and  among  whom  he  received  the  attentions  which  his 
suffering  condition  demanded.  He  soon  after  repaired 
to  London,  where  he  lived  forborne  time  in  a  state  of 
poverty.  Too  haughty  to  apply  for  assistance  to  the 
British  government,  he  relied  altogether  upon  his  own 
efforts  for  the  means  of  subsistence.  He  spent  the 
day  in  translating,  and  the  night  in  composing  his 
Essay  011  Eevolutions.  But  this  incessant  labor  soon 
undermined  his  health,  and  there  being  moreover 
little  to  do  in  the  way  of  translating,  the  unfortunate 
exile  experienced  for  some  days  the  cravings  of  hun 
ger.  Happily,  at  this  juncture,  his  services  were  re 
quested  by  a  body  of  learned  men  who,  under  the  direc 
tion  of  the  pastor  of  Beccles,  were  preparing  a  history 
of  the  county  of  Suffolk.  His  part  of  the  labor  con 
sisted  in  explaining  some  French  manuscripts  of  the 
twelfth  century,  the  knowledge  of  which  was  neces 
sary  to  the  authors  of  the  enterprise. 

On  his  return  to  London,  Chateaubriand  completed 
his  Essai  sur  les  Revolutions,  which  was  published  in 
1797.  This  work  produced  quite  a  sensation,  won  for 
him  the  commendations  and  sympathy  of  the  French 
nobility  then  in  England,  and  placed  him  in  relation 
with  Montlosier,  Delille  and  Fontanes.  He  was  sorely 
tried,  however,  by  the  afflictions  of  his  family.  He 
had  received  the  distressing  intelligence  that  his  bro- 


28  NOTICE   OF   THE 

t;her  and  sister-in-law,  with  his  friend  Malesherbes, 
bad  been  guillotined  by  the  revolutionary  harpies, 
and  that  his  wife  and  sister  had  been  imprsoned  at 
Rennes,  and  his  aged  mother  at  Paris.  This  pious 
lady,  after  having  suffered  a  long  confinement,  died  in 
1798,  with  a  prayer  on  her  lips  for  the  conversion  of 
her  son.  Young  Chateaubriand  was  not  insensible  to 
this  prayer  of  his  venerated  parent.  "She  charged 
one  of  my  sisters,"  he  writes,  uto  recall  me  to  a  sense 
of  that  religion  in  which  I  had  been  educated,  and  my 
sister  made  known  to  me  her  wish.  When  the  letter 
reached  me  beyond  the  water,  my  sister  also  had  de 
parted  this  life,  having  succumbed  under  the  effects  of 
her  imprisonment.  Those  two  voices  coming  up  from 
the  grave,  and  that  death  which  had  now  become  the 
interpreter  of  death,  struck  me  with  peculiar  force.  I 
became  a  Christian.  I  did  not  yield  to  any  great  su 
pernatural  light :  my  conviction  came  from  the  heart. 
I  wept,  and  I  believed."  His  ideas  having  thus  under 
gone  a  serious  change,  he  resolved  to  consecrate  to 
religion  the  pen  which  had  given  expression  to  the 
skepticism  of  the  times,  and  he  planned  at  once  the 
immortal  work,  Lc  Genie  du  Christianisme. 

As  soon  as  Buonaparte  had  been  appointed  First 
Consul,  Chateaubriand  returned  to  France  under  an 
assumed  name,  associated  himself  with  Fontanes  in 
the  editorship  of  the  Mercure,  and  in  1801  published 
his  Atala.  This  romance,  attacked  by  some,  but  en 
thusiastically  received  by  the  greater  number,  was 
eminently  successful,  and  added  to  the  circle  of  the 
author's  friends  many  illustrious  names.  Madame 
Bacciochi  and  Lucien  Buonaparte  became  his  protec- 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIANJ).  29 


tors,  while  he  was  brought  into  intercourse  with  Jou- 
bert,  de  Bonald,  La  Harpe,  Chenedolle,  Mesdames 
Recamier  and  de  Beaumont.  His  design,  in  the  pub 
lication  of  Atala,  was  to  introduce  himself  to  the 
public,  and  to  prepare  the  way  for  the  Genie  du  Chris- 
tianisme,  which  appeared  in  1802.  ~No  sooner  was  it 
issued  from  the  press,  than  the  disciples  of  Voltaire 
stamped  it  as  the  offspring  of  superstition,  and  pamph 
leteers  and  journalists  united  in  visiting  the  author 
and  his  work  with  proud  contempt ;  but  the  friends  of 
religion  and  of  poetry  applauded  the  intentions  and 
admired  the  talents  of  the  writer. 

Buonaparte,  who  was  at  this  time  busy  with  the  con 
cordat,  was  desirous  of  seeing  the  man  who  so  ably 
seconded  his  views ;  and,  with  the  hope  of  attaching 
him  to  his  fortune,  appointed  him  first  secretary  of 
Cardinal  Fesch,  then  ambassador  to  the  Court  of 
Rome.  When  the  new  diplomatist  was  presented  to 
Pius  VII.,  this  .venerable  pontiff  was  reading  the  Genie 
du  Christianisme.  The  honors  of  the  French  embassy 
had  no  great  attractions  for  our  author.  Averse  to 
being  an  instrument  of  the  tortuous  policy  which  it 
began  to  display,  he  resigned  his  post  and  returned  to 
Paris.  Napoleon,  sensible  of  his  eminent  abilities, 
sought  rather  to  conquer  than  to  crush  his  independ 
ent  spirit,  and  appointed  him  minister  plenipotentiary 
to  the  Yalais.  He  received  this  commission  the  day 
before  the  Duke  d'Enghien,  who  had  been  seized  on 
foreign  territory,  in  contempt  of  the  law  of  nations, 
was  shot  in  the  ditch  of  Vincennes.  That  very  even 
ing,  while  fear  or  astonishment  still  pervaded  the 
minds  of  all,  Chateaubriand  sent  in  his  resignation. 


30  NOTICE   OF   THE 

Napoleon  could  not  but  feel  the  censure  implied  in 
this  bold  protestation,  which  was  the  more  meritorious 
as  it  was  the  only  expression  of  fearless  opposition  to 
his  prescriptive  measure.  He  did  not,  however,  betray 
his  displeasure,  nor  did  he  disturb  the  courageous 
writer  in  whom  he  began  to  detect  an  enemy ;  on  the 
contrary,  in  order  to  draw  him  into  his  service,  he 
made  him  every  offer  that  could  flatter  his  interest  or 
ambition.  The  refusal  of  Chateaubriand  to  accept  any 
post  under  the  consular  regime  made  him  obnoxious 
to  Napoleon,  who  gratified  his  resentment  by  crippling 
the  literary  resources  of  his  political  adversary. 

Under  these  circumstances,  he  paid  a  visit  to  Ma 
dame  de  Stael,  who  had  become  his  friend  by  a  com 
munity  of  sentiment  and  misfortune,  and  who  was 
living  in  exile  at  Coppet.  The  following  year — 
1806 — he  executed  his  design  of  a  pilgrimage  to 
the  Holy  Land.  Revisiting  Italy,  he  embarked  for 
Greece,  spent  some  time  among  the  ruins  of  Sparta 
and  the  monuments  of  Athens,  passed  over  to  Smyrna, 
thence  to  the  island  of  Cyprus,  and  at  length 
reached  Jerusalem.  Here,  having  venerated  the  relics 
of  the  noble  crusaders,  and  especially  that  tomb 
"which  alone  will  have  nothing  to  send  forth  at  the 
end  of  time,"  he  sailed  for  Egypt,  explored  the  fields 
of  Carthage,  passed  over  to  Spain,  and  amid  the  ruins 
of  the  Alhambra  wrote  Le  dernier  des  Abeneerages.  On 
his  return  to  France,  in  May,  1807,  he  published  in  the 
Mercure,  which  partly  belonged  to  him,  an  article 
which  greatly  incensed  the '  government  against  him. 
The  emperor  -spoke  of  having  him  executed  on  the 
steps  of  the  Tuileries,  but,  after  having  issued  the 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  31 

order  to  arrest  him,  he  was  satisfied  with  depriving 
him  of  his  interest  in  the  Mercury.  Chateaubriand 
now  retired  to  his  possessions  near  Aulnay,  where  he 
wrote  his  Itimraire,  Molse,  and  Les  Martyrs.  When 
the  first-mentioned  work  was  about  to  appear,  in  1811, 
the  author  was  notified  by  the  government  that  the 
publication  would  not  be  permitted,  unless  he  would 
introduce  into  its  pages  a  eulogy  of  the  emperor. 
Chateaubriand  refused  to  submit  to  such  a  condition  ; 
but  having  been  informed  that  his  publisher  would 
suffer  materially  by  the  suppression  of  the  work,  he 
was  induced  by  this  consideration,  to  do,  in  some 
measure,  what  neither  fear  nor  personal  interest  could 
extort  from  him.  In  complying  with  the  requisition 
of  the  authorities,  he  alluded  in  truthful  language  to 
the  exploits  of  the  French  armies,  and  to  the  fame  of 
their  general  who  had  so  often  led  them  on  to  victory; 
but  he  carefully  abstained  from  signalizing  the  acts  of 
a  government  whose  policy  was  so  much  at  variance 
with  the  principles  which  he  professed. 

Buonaparte  had  still  some  hope  of  gaining  over  the 
independent  and  fearless  writer.  When  a  vacancy 
had  occurred  in  the  French  Academy  by  the  death  of 
Chenier,  the  situation  was  offered  to  Chateaubriand, 
who  was  also  selected  by  the  emperor  for  the  general 
superintendence  of  the  imperial  libraries,  with  a  salary 
equal  to  that  of  a  first-class  embassy.  Custom,  how 
ever,  required  that  the  member-elect  should  pronounce 
the  eulogy  of  his  predecessor ;  but  in  this  instance  the 
independence  of  Chateaubriand  gave  sufficient  reason 
to  think  that,  instead  of  heralding  the  merit  of  Che 
nier,  who  had  participated  in  the  judicial  murder  of 


32  NOTICE   OF   THE 


Louih  XVI.,  he  would  denounce  in  unmeasured  terms 
the  crimes  of  the  French  Revolution.  His  inaugural 
address  having  been  submitted,  according  to  custom, 
to  a  committee  of  inspection,  they  decided  that  it 
could  not  be  delivered  by  the  author.  The  emperor, 
moreover-,  having  obtained  some  knowledge  of  its  con 
tents,  which  formed  an  eloquent  protest  against  the 
revolutionary  doctrines  and  the  despotic  tendencies 
of  the  existing  government,  he  was  exasperated  against 
the  writer,  and  in  his  excitement  he  paced  his  room 
to  and  fro,  striking  his  forehead,  and  exclaiming — 
"Am  I,  then,  nothing  more  than  a  usurper  ?  Ah,  poor 
France!  how  much  do  you  still  need  an  instructor!" 
The  admission  of  Chateaubriand  to  the  Academy  was 
indefinitely  postponed. 

But  the  star  of  Buonaparte  had  now  begun  to  wane. 
The  allied  armies  having  entered  France,  Chateau 
briand  openly  declared  himself  in  favor  of  the  ancient 
dynasty.  His  sentiments  were  unequivocally  expressed 
in  a  pamphlet,  which  he  published  in  1814,  under  the 
title  of  Buonaparte  et  les  Bourbons,  and  which  Louis 
XVIII.  acknowledged  t£>  have  been  worth  to  him  an 
army.  Upon  the  restoration  of  this  monarch  to  the 
throne,  Chateaubriand  was  appointed  ambassador  to 
Sweden  ;  but  he  had  not  yet  taken  his  departure,  when 
it  was  announced  that  Buonaparte  had  again  appeared 
on  the  soil  of  France.  Our  author  advised  the  king  to 
await  his  rival  in  Paris ;  but  this  suggestion  was  not 
followed.  Louis  XVHI.  proceeded  to  Gand,  where 
Chateaubriand  was  a  member  of  his  council,  in  the 
capacity  of  Minister  of  the  Interior,  and  drew  up  an 
able  report  on  the  condition  of  France,  which  was 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  33 

considered  as  a  political  manifesto.     After  the  second 
restoration  of  the  Bourbons,  he  declined  a  portfolio  in 
connection  with  Fouch.6  and  Talleyrand.     Called  to  a 
seat  in  the  House  of  Peers,  he  attracted  considerable 
attention  by  some  of  his  speeches.     Not  less  a  friend 
of  the  Bourbons  than  of  the  liberties  guaranteed  by 
the  charter,  he  endeavored  to  conciliate  the  rights  of 
the  throne  with  those  of  the  nation ;   and  he  beheld 
with  indignation  men  who  had  been  too  prominent 
during  the  revolutionary  period,  admitted  to  the  royal 
councils  and  to  various  offices  of  the  administration. 
Under  the  influence  of  these  sentiments  he  published, 
in  1816,  a  pamphlet  entitled  La  Monarchic  selon   la 
Charte,  which  was  an  able  and  popular  defence  of  con 
stitutional  government ;  but  by  the  order  of  de  Gazes, 
president  of  the  council,  the  work  was  suppressed,  and 
its  author,  although  acquitted  before   the   tribunals, 
was  no  longer  numbered  among  the  ministers  of  state. 
Deprived  of  his  station  and  of  his  income,  Chateau 
briand  was  compelled  to   dispose  of  his  library  as  a 
means  .of  subsistence.     At  the  same  time,  he   esta 
blished  the  Qmservatew,  a  periodical  opposed  to  the 
Minerve,   the   ministerial   organ,    and,  in  conjunction 
with  the  Duo  de  Montmorency  and  others,  he  carried 
on  a  vigorous  war  against  the  favorite  of  the  crown. 
The  cabinet  of  de  Cazes  could  not  withstand  such  an 
antagonist ;  the  daily  assaults  of  the  Conservateur  made 
it  waver,  and  the  assassination  of  the  Duke  of  Berry 
completed  its  downfall.      On  the  accession  of  M.  de 
Villele  to  power,  Chateaubriand  accepted  the  mission 
to  Berlin.     While  he  occupied  this  post,  he  won  the 
attachment  of  the  royal  family,  the  confidence  of  the 


34  NOTICE   OF   THE 

Prussian  ministers,  and  the  intimate  friendship  of  the 
Duchess  of  Cumberland.  In  1822,  he  succeeded  M. 
de  Gazes  as  the  representative  of  France  at  the  court 
of  St.  James,  and  soon  afterward  crossed  the  Alps  as  a 
delegate  to  the  Congress  of  Verona.  Having  distin 
guished  himself  in  this  assembly  by  eloquently  plead 
ing  the  cause  of  Greece,  and  defending  the  interests 
of  his  own  country  in  relation  to  the  Spanish  war,  he 
returned  to  France  and  became  Minister  of  Foreign 
Affairs.  While  he  held  this  station,  he  succeeded  in 
effecting  the  intervention  of  his  government  in  behalf 
of  Ferdinand  VII.,  notwithstanding  the  opposition  of 
M.  de  Villele.  He  could  not,  however,  maintain  his 
position  long,  with  the  antipathies  of  the  king  and  the 
jealousy  of  his  prime  minister  against  him.  He  ac 
cordingly  retired  from  the  cabinet  in  1824,  and  re- 
entered  the  ranks  of  the  liberal  opposition,  of  which 
he  soon  became  the  leader.  The  contributions  of  his 
pen  to  the  columns  of  the  Journal  des  Debate  allowed 
not  a  moment's  truce  to  the  ministry.  He  assailed  all 
the  measures  of  the  cabinet;  the  reduction  of  rents, 
the  rights  of  primogeniture,  the  law  of  sacrilege,  the 
dissolution  of  the  national  guard,  all  were  denounced 
by  him  with  a  vigor  and  constancy  which  accom 
plished  the  fall  of  M.  de  Villele. 

Such  was  the  state  of  things  when  Louis  XVHL 
was  summoned  from  life;  and  Chateaubriand,  care 
fully  distinguishing  the  cause  of  the  dynasty  from  that 
of  its  micisters,  who,  according  to  him,  were  unworthy 
of  their  position,  published  a  pamphlet  entitled  Le  roi 
est  mort,  vive  le  roi!  which  was  a  new  proof  of  his  de- 
votedness  to  the  Bourbons.  After  the  inauguration 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  35 

of  Charles  X.  and  the  formation  of  the  Martignac  cabi 
net,  he  accepted  a  mission  to  Rome,  after  having  de 
clined  the  offer  of  a  ministerial  position.  Upon  the 
accession,  however,  of  Prince  Polignac  to  the  office  of 
Foreign  Affairs,  he  immediately  sent  in  his  resigna 
tion,  and  used  his  influence  against  the  administration. 
The  events  which  soon  followed  justified  his  political 
views.  The  fatal  ordinances  of  the  government,  in 
July,  1830,  against  the  liberty  of  the  press  and  the 
right  of  suffrage,  precipitated  a  revolution,  which  re 
sulted  in  the  exile  of  the  elder  branch  of  the  Bourbons. 
In  this  crisis,  Chateaubriand  made  an  eloquent  protest, 
in  the  House  of  Peers,  against  the  change  of  dynasty, 
and  advocated  with  all  his  ability  the  recognition  of 
the  Duke  of  Bordeaux  and  the  appointment  of  a  re 
gent  during  his  minority ;  but  his  efforts  were  fruit 
less,  and  the  Duke  of  Orleans  rose  to  power,  under  the 
name  of  Louis  Philippe. 

Unwilling  to  pledge  himself  to  this  new  state  of 
things,  he  relinquished  his  dignity  of  peer  of  the  realm, 
with  his  public  honors  and  pensions,  and  retired  poor 
into  private  life.  The  following  year,  however,  he  was 
roused  from  his  political  slumbers,  and  he  published  a 
pamphlet  on  the  Nouvelle  Restauration,  and,  in  1832,  a 
Memoire  sur  la  Captivite  de  Madame  la  Dachesse  de  Berry, 
whom  he  had  visited  in  her  prison ;  and  in  1833  appeared 
another  work,  entitled  Conclusions.  This  last  produc 
tion  was  seized  by  the  government,  and  the  author 
was  arraigned  before  the  tribunals,  but  was  acquitted 
by  the  ji  ry.  After  a  visit  to  Italy  and  the  south  of 
France,  Chateaubriand  paid  his  respects  to  the  family 
of  Charles  X.,  at  Prague.  On  his  return  to  Paris,  he 


36  NOTICE   OF    THE 

took  no  part  ii  public  affairs,  and  left  liis  domestic 
privacy  only  to  visit  the  Abbaye-aux-Bois,  where  Ma 
dame  Recamier  assembled  in  her  mansion  the  flower 
of  the  old  French  society.  During  the  remainder  of 
his  life,  he  was  occupied  in  the  study  of  English  litera 
ture,  in  writing  the  Life  of  the  Abbe  de  Ranee,  and  pre 
paring  his  Memoires  d'  Outre-  Tombe.  The  political  revo 
lution  of  February,  1848,  which  hurled  Louis  Philippe 
from  the  throne,  did  not  surprise  him,  because  he  had 
predicted  it  in  1830.  Drawing  near  to  his  end  when 
the  insurrection  of  June  broke  forth  at  Paris,  he  spoke 
with  admiration  of  the  heroic  death  of  the  archbishop, 
and,  having  received  the  last  rites  of  religion  with 
great  sentiments  of  piety,  he  expired  on  the  4th  of 
July,  1848.  His  remains  were  conveyed  to  St.  Malo, 
his  native  city,  and,  in  compliance  with  his  own  re 
quest,  were  deposited  in  a  tomb  which  the  civil  autho 
rity  had  prepared  for  him  under  a  rock  projecting  into 
the  sea.  M.  Ampere,  in  the  name  of  the  French 
Academy,  delivered  an  address  on  the  spot,  and  the 
Duke  de  Koailles,  who  succeeded  him  in  that  illus 
trious  society,  pronounced  his  eulogy  at  a  public 
session  held  on  the  6th  of  December,  1849. 

Chateaubriand  had  rather  a  haughty  bearing,  and 
spoke  little.  He  was  fond  of  praise,  and  bestowed  it 
liberally  upon  others.  With  republican  tastes,  he  de 
fended  and  served  the  monarchical  system  as  the  esta 
blished  order,  and  was  devoted  to  the  Bourbon  dy 
nasty  as  a  matter  of  honor.  His  political  sentiments 
never  changed,  and  he  never  ceased  to  be  the  advo 
cate  of  enlightened  liberty.  His  religious  views  once 
formed,  he  vindicated  them  by  his  writings,  and 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAN-D.  37 


honored  them  in  the  practice  of  his  life.  His  disin 
terestedness  was  equal  to  his  genius,  and  his  benefi 
cence  was  continually  seconded  by  that  of  his  wife. 
They  were  the  founders  of  the  asylum  Marie  Therhe 
at  Paris,  a  home  for  clergymen  who  are  disatlei  by 
infirmity. 

The  works  of  Chateaubriand  are :  Essai  Historiquz, 
Politique,  et  Moral,  sur  les  Revolutions  Andennes  et  Moderms, 
consider  ees  dans  leur  rapport  avec  la  Revolution  Frangaist. 
Londres,  1797,  in  8vo,  tome  i.  In  this  work,  the  au 
thor,  in  his  attempts  to  assimilate  the  events  and  per 
sonages  of  the  French  Revolution  to  those  of  antiqu'J y, 
displays  more  imagination  than  reflection.  The  etyle 
as  well  as  the  substance  of  the  volume  betrays  the 
youth  and  inexperience  of  the  writer.  lie  completed 
this  Essai  in  1814,  observing  that  his  political  views 
had  suffered  no  change.  This  was  in  fact  true,  as  he 
espoused  in  his  work  the  principles  of  constitutional 
monarchy,  to  which  he  had  always  adhered.  To  tha 
honor  of  the  author,  he  did  not  assert  the  same  irre 
ligious  sentiments  that  had  appeared  in  the  Essai. 
These  he  nobly  retracted  in  a  series  of  notes  which  he 
added  to  the  work,  without  deeming  it  necessary  to 
expunge  the  objectionable  passages  from  the  context, 

Atala,  ou  les  Amours  de  deux  Sauvages  dam  le  Defer  i. 
Paris,  1801,  in  18mo.  This  little  romance  has  bsen 
translated  into  several  languages,  and  derives  a  sin 
gular  charm  from  the  vivid  descriptions  and  impas 
sioned  sentiments  vhich  it  contains.  Religion,  how 
ever,  has  justly  censured  the  too  voluptuous  character 
:>f  certain  passages,  which  are  unfit  for  the  youth 
ful  eye. 


38  NOTICE   OF   THE 

Le  Genie  du  Christianisme;  or,  Tlw  Genius  of  Chris 
tianity.  Paris,  1802,  3  vols.  8vo.  Of  all  the  works  of 
Chateaubriand,  this  had  the  happiest  influence  upon 
Ids  age  and  country.  Voltaire  and  his  school  had 
loo  well  succeeded  in  representing  the  dogmas  ot 
Christianity  as  absurd,  its  ceremonial  ridiculous,  and 
its  influence  hostile  to  the  progress  of  knowledge. 
But  Chateaubriand,  by  the  magic  power  of  his  pen, 
produced  a  revolution  in  public  sentiment.  Address 
ing  himself  chiefly  to  the  imagination  and  the  heart, 
L.e  compares  the  poets,  philosophers,  historians,  orators, 
a  Ad  artists  of  modern  times  with  those  of  pagan  anti 
quity,  and  shows  how  religion  dignities  and  improves 
all  that  breathes  its  hallowed  inspiration.  The  inaccu 
racies  of  thought  and  expression  which  appeared  in  the 
first  edition, were  corrected  in  the  subsequent  issues  of 
the  work. 

Rent,  an  episode  of  the  Genie  du,  Christianisme.  Paris, 
1807,  in  12mo.  In  this  fiction  the  writer  depicts  the 
advantages  of  religious  seclusion,  by  showing  the 
wretchedness  of  solitude  where  God  is  not  the  sustain 
ing  thought  in  the  soul  of  man. 

Les  Martyrs;  ou,  Le  Triomphe  de  la  Religion  Chretienne. 
Paris,  1810,  3  vols.  in  8vo.  The  subject  and  characters 
of  this  work  are  borrowed  from  antiquity,  sacred  and 
profane.  The  author  proves  what  he  advances  in  his 
Genius  of  Christianity  —  that  religion,  far  more  than 
mythology,  ministers  to  poetic  inspiration.  The  ex 
piring  civilization  of  paganism,  Christianity  emerging 
from  the  catacombs,  the  manners  of  the  first  Chris 
tians  and  those  of  the  barbarous  tribes  of  Germany, 
furnish  the  author  with  a  varied  and  interesting  theme, 


VISCOUNT    DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  39 


which  he  presents  with  all  the  attractions  of  the  most 
cultivated  style. 

Itineraire^de  Paris  a  Jerusalem,  et  de  Jerusalem  a  Paris, 
fc.  Paris,  1811,  3  vols.  in  8vo.  This  work — one  of 
the  most  interesting  from  the  pen  of  the  illustrious 
author — is  characterized  by  beauty  and  fidelity  of  de 
scription,  grand  and  poetic  allusions,  a  happy  choice 
of  anecdote,  sound  erudition,  and  a  perfect  acquaint 
ance  with  antiquity.  With  the  publication  of  his 
travels  in  the  East,  Chateaubriand  considered  his  lite 
rary  life  brought  to  a  close,  as  he  soon  after  entered 
the  career  of  politics,  which  continued  until  the  down 
fall  of  Charles  X.  in  1830. 

During  that  period  he  published  a  large  number  of 
works,  relating  chiefly  to  the  political  questions  of  the 
day.  The  more  important  are  those  entitled  De  Buona 
parte,  des  Bourbons,  £c.,  1814 ;  Reflexions  Politiques,  1814 ; 
Melanges  de  Politique,  1816;  De  la  Monarchic  selon  la 
Charte,  1816.  This  treatise  may  be  considered  as  the 
political  programme  of  the  author,  and  is  divided  into 
two  parts.  In  the  first  he  exposes  the  principles  of  re 
presentative  government,  the  liberty  of  thought  and 
of  the  press,  &c. ;  and  in  the  second  he  urges  the  ne 
cessity  of  guarding  against  revolutionary  license,  and 
points  out  the  rights  of  the  clergy  and  the  popular 
system  of  public  instruction.  In  his  Etudes  Historiques, 
2  vols.  8vo,  1826,  he  lays  down  three  kinds  of  truth  as 
forming  the  basis  of  all  social  order : — religious  truth, 
which  is  found  only  in  the  Christian  faith ;  philoso 
phical  truth,  or  the  freedom  of  the  human  mind  in  its 
efforts  to  discover  and  perfect  intellectual,  moral,  and 
physical  science;  political  truth,  or  the  union  of  order 


40  NOTICE  OF   THE 


with  liberty.  From  the  alliance,  separation,  or  colli 
sion  of  these  three  principles,  all  the  facts  of  history 
have  emanated.  The  world's  inhabitants  .he  divides 
into  three  classes :  pagans,  Christians,  and  barbarians ; 
and  shows  how,  in  the  first  centuries  of  our  era,  they 
existed  together  in  a  confused  way,  afterward  com 
mingled  in  the  medieval  age,  and  finally  constituted 
the  society  which  now  covers  a  vast  portion  of  the 
globe.  During  the  same  year  (1826)  the  author  pub 
lished  his  Natchez,  2  vols.  8vo,  containing  his  recollec 
tions  of  America,  and  Aventures  du  dernier  des  Aben- 
cerages,  in  8vo, — a  romance  not  less  charming  than  his 
Atala,  and  free  from  the  objectionable  character  of  that 
publication.  The  works  that  came  from  the  author's 
pen  after  his  retirement  into  private  life,  are,  besides 
those  mentioned  above,  Essai  sur  Ja  Literature  Anglaise, 
£c.,  2  vols.  8vo  ;  Le  Paradis  Perdu  de  Milton:  traduction 
nouvelle,  2  vols.  8vo,  1836 ;  Le  Congres  de  Verone,  2  vols. 
8vo,  1838 ;  Vie  de  I'Abbe  de  Ranee,  in  8vo,  1844,— rather 
a  picture  of  the  manners  of  the  French  court  in  the 
seventeenth  century  than  a  life  of  the  distinguished 
Trappist.  But  the  pen  of  the  immortal  writer  still 
displays  the  vigorous  and  glowing  style  of  his  earlier 
productions,  though  certain  passages  criticized  by  the 
religious  press  show  that  it  is  not  unexceptionable. 

The  Memoires  d  Outre- Tombe,  a  posthumous  work  of 
the  author,  was  published  at  Paris  in  ten,  and  has 
been  reprinted  in  this  country  in  five  volumes.  Cha 
teaubriand  here  sketches  with  a  bold  hand  the  picture 
of  his  whole  life ;  a  mixture  of  reverie  and  action,  of 
misfortune  and  contest,  of  glory  and  humiliation.  We 
see  grouping  around  him  all  the  prominent  events  of 


VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND.  41 


contemporaneous  history,  which  he  explains  and  clears 
up.  A  remarkable  variety  exists  in  the  subject-matter 
and  in  the  tone  of  this  work.  The  gayest  and  most 
magnificent  descriptions  of  nature  often  appear  side 
by  side  with  the  keenest  satire  upon  society,  and  the 
loftiest  considerations  of  philosophy  and  morals  are 
blended  with  the  most  simple  narrative.  The  vanity 
of  human  things  appears  here  with  striking  effect,  and 
the  sadness  which  they  inspire  becomes  still  more  im 
pressive  under  the  touches  of  that  impassioned  elo 
quence  which  describes  them.  At  times  we  discover 
in  the  writer  the  ingenious  wit,  and  the  clear,  ex 
pressive,  and  eminently  French  prose,  of  Voltaire. 
These  Memoires,  however,  are  not  faultless.  The  first 
part,  in  which  he  portrays  the  dreamy  aspirations  of 
his  youth,  may  prove  dangerous  to  the  incautious 
reader.  Critics  charge  the  author  with  an  affectation 
of  false  simplicity,  with  the  abuse  of  neology,  and  with 
a  puerile  vanity  in  speaking  either  in  his  own  praise 
or  otherwise.  They  pretend,  also,  that  the  work  is 
overwrought,  contains  contradictions,  and  betrays 
sometimes  in  the  same  page  the  changing  impressions 
of  the  author. 

But,  whatever  the  defects  of  Chateaubriand's  style, 
he  is  universally  allowed  by  the  French  of  all  parties  to 
be  their  first  writer.  "  He  is  also,"  says  Alison,  "  a  pro 
found  scholar  and  an  enlightened  thinker.  His  know 
ledge  of  history  and  classical  literature  is  equalled  only 
by  his  intimate  acquaintance  with  the  early  annals  of 
the  Church  and  the  fathers  of  the  Catholic  faith ; 
while  in  his  speeches  delivered  in  the  Chamber  of 
Peers  since  the  Restoration,  will  be  found  not  only  the 


42  NOTICE   OF   VISCOUNT   DE   CHATEAUBRIAND. 

most  eloquent,  but  the  most  complete  and  satisfactory, 
dissertations  on  the  political  state  of  France  during 

that  period  which  are  anywhere  to  be  met  with 

Few  are  aware  that  he  is,  without  one  single  excep 
tion,  the  most  eloquent  writer  of  the  present  age; 
that,  independent  of  politics,  he  has  produced  many 
works  on  morals,  religion,  and  history,  destined  for 
lasting  endurance;  that  his  writings  combine  the 
strongest  love  of  rational  freedom  with  the  warmest 
inspiration  of  Christian  devotion ;  that  he  is,  as  it 
were,  the  link  between  the  feudal  and  the  revolu 
tionary  ages,  retaining  from  the  former  its  generous 
and  elevated  feeling,  and  inhaling  from  the  latter  its 
acute  and  fearless  investigation.  The  last  pilgrim, 
with  devout  feelings,  to  the  holy  sepulchre,  he  was  the 
first  supporter  of  constitutional  freedom  in  France, 
discarding  thus  from  former  times  their  bigoted  fury, 
and  from  modern  their  infidel  spirit,  blending  all  that 
was  noble  in  the  ardor  of  the  Crusades  with  all  that  is 
generous  in  the  enthusiasm  of  freedom."31 

*  Essays,  Art.  Chateaubriand. 


THE 


GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 


fart  %  first 

DOGMAS    AND    TENETS. 

BOOK  I. 

MYSTERIES  AND   SACRAMENTS. 
CHAPTER   I. 

INTRODUCTION. 

EVER  since  Christianity  was  first  published  to  the  world,  it 
has  been  continually  assailed  by  three  kinds  of  enemies — heretics, 
sophists,  and  those  apparently  frivolous  characters  who  destroy 
every  thing  with  the  shafts  of  ridicule.  Numerous  apologists 
have  given  victorious  answers  to  subtleties  and  falsehoods,  but 
they  have  not  been  so  successful  against  derision.  St.  Ignatius 
of  Antioch,1  St.  Irenaeus,  Bishop  of  Lyons,3  Tertullian,  in  his 
Prescriptions?  which  Bossuet  calls  divine,  combated  the  inno- 

1  Ignat.  Epist.  ad  Smyrn.  He  was  a  disciple  of  St.  John,  and  Bishop  of 
Antioch  about  A.  B.  70. 

2/n  Hcereses,  Lib.  vi.  He  was  a  disciple  of  St.  Polycarp,  who  was  taught 
Christianity  by  St.  John. 

3  Tertullian  gave  the  name  of  Prescriptions  to  the  excellent  work  he  wrote 
against  heretics,  and  the  great  argument  of  which  is  founded  on  the  antiquity 

43 


44  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

vators  of  their  time,  whose  extravagant  expositions  corrupted 
the  simplicity  of  the  faith. 

Calumny  was  first  repulsed  by  Quadratus  and  Aristides,  philo 
sophers  of  Athens.  We  know,  however,  nothing  of  their  apo 
logies  for  Christianity,  except  a  fragment  of  the  former,  which 
Eusebius  has  preserved.1  Both  he  and  St.  Jerome  speak  of  the 
work  of  Aristides  as  a  master-piece  of  eloquence. 

The  Pagans  accused  the  first  Christians  of  atheism,  incest, 
and  certain  abominable  feasts,  at  which  they  were  said  to  partake 
of  the  flesh  of  a  new-born  infant.  After  Quadratus  and  Aris 
tides,  St.  Justin  pleaded  the  cause  of  the  Christians.  His  style 
is  unadorned,  and  the  circumstances  attending  his  martyrdom 
prove  that  he  shed  his  blood  for  religion  with  the  same  sincerity 
with  which  he  had  written  in  its  defence.3  Athenagoras  has 
shown  more  address  in  his  apology,  but  he  has  neither  the  origi 
nality  of  Justin  nor  the  impetuosity  of  the  author  of  the  Apo 
logetic.3  Tertullian  is  the  unrefined  Bossuet  of  Africa.  St.  The- 
ophilus,  in  his  three  books  addressed  to  his  friend  Autolychus, 
displays  imagination  and  learning  ;4  and  the  Octavius  of  Minu- 
cius  Felix  exhibits  the  pleasing  picture  of  a  Christian  and  two 
idolaters  conversing  on  religion  and  the  nature  of  God,  during  a 
walk  along  the  sea-shore.5 


ajid  authority  of  the  Church.  It  will  always  be  an  unanswerable  refutation  of 
all  innovators  that  they  came  too  late ;  that  the  Church  was  already  in  posses 
sion  ;  and,  consequently,  that  her  teaching  constitutes  the  last  appeal.  Tertul 
lian  lived  in  the  third  century.  T. 

1  This  curious  fragment  carries  us  up  to  the  time  of  our  Saviour  himself;  for 
Quadratus  says,  "None  can  doubt  the  truth  of  our  Lord's  miracles,  because  the 
persons  healed  and  raised  from  the  dead  had  been  seen  long  after  their  cure; 
so  that  many  were  yet  living  in  our  own  time."    Euseb.  Eccles.  Hist.  lib.  iv.    K. 

2  Justin,  surnamed  the  Martyr,  was  a   Platonic  philosopher  before  his  con 
version.     He  wrote  two  Defences  of  the  Christians  in  the  Greek   language, 
during   a  violent  persecution    in    the   reign  of  Antoninus,  the  successor   of 
Adrian.     He  suffered  martyrdom  A.  D.  167.     K. 

3  Athenagoras  was  a  Greek  philosopher  of  eminence,  and  flourished  in  the 
second  century.     He  wrote  not  only  an  apology,  but  a  treatise  on  the  resur 
rection,  both  of  which  display  talents  and  learning.     K. 

4  St.  Theophilus  was  Bishop  of  Antioch,  and  one  of  the  most  learned  fathers 
of  the  Church  at  that  period.     T. 

5  He  flourished  at  the  end  of  the  first  century,  was  Bishop  of  Antioch,  and 
wrote  in  Greek.     See  the  elegant  translation  of  the  ancient  apologists,  by  the 
Abbe  de  Gourey. 


INTRODUCTION.  45 


Arnobius,  the  rhetorician,1  Lactantius,3  Eusebius,3  and  St.  Cy 
prian,*  also  defended  Christianity;  but  their  efforts  were  not  so 
much  directed  to  the  display  of  its  beauty,  as  to  the  exposure  of 
the  absurdities  of  idolatry. 

Origen  combated  the  sophists,  and  seems  to  have  had  the 
advantage  ever  Celsus,  his  antagonist,  in  learning,  argument  and 
style.  The  Greek  of  Origen  is  remarkably  smooth;  it  is,  how 
ever,  interspersed  with  Hebrew  and  other  foreign  idioms,  which 
is  frequently  the  case  with  writers  who  are  masters  of  various 
languages.5 

During  the  reign  of  the  emperor  Julian8  commenced  a  perse 
cution,  perhaps  more  dangerous  than  violence  itself,  which 
consisted  in  loading  the  Christians  with  disgrace  and  contempt. 
Julian  began  his  hostility  by  plundering  the  churches;  he  then 
forbade  the  faithful  to  teach  or  to  study  the  liberal  arts  and 
sciences.7  Sensible,  however,  of  the  important  advantages  of  the 
institutions  of  Christianity,  the  emperor  determined  to  establish 
Hospitals  and  monasteries,  and,  after  the  example  of  the  gospel 
system,  to  combine  morality  with  religion;  he  ordered  a  kind  of 
sermons  to  be  delivered  in  the  Pagan  temples. 

1  He  was  an  Arian,  and  flourished  in  the  third  century.     In  an  elaborate 
work  against  the  Gentiles,  he  defends  the  Christians  with  ability.     K. 

2  He  was  a  scholar  of  Arnobius.     He  completely  exposed  the  absurdity  of 
the  Pagan  superstitions.     So  eminent  were  his  talents  and  learning,  that  Con 
stantino  the  Great,  the  first  Christian  emperor,  entrusted  the  education  of  his 
son  Crispus  to  his  care.     Such  is  the  elegance  of  his  Latin  style,  that  he  is 
called  the  Christian  Cicero.     K. 

3  He  was  Bishop  of  Csesarea,  and  flourished  in  the  fourth  century.     He  is 
a  Greek  writer  of  profound  and   various  learning.     So  copious  and  highly 
valuable  are  his  works,  that  he  is  styled  the  Father  of  Ecclesiastical  History. 
Constantino  the  Great  honored  him  with  his  esteem  and  confidence:  but  he  was 
unfortunately  tinctured  with  Arianism.     T. 

4  He  was  Bishop  of  Carthage  in  the  third  century,  a  Latin  writer  of  great 
eloquence,  and  a  martyr  for  the  faith. 

5  Origen  flourished  in  the  third  century.     He  was  a  priest  of  Alexandria. 
His  voluminous  works,  written  in   Greek,  prove  his  piety,  active  zeal,  great 
abilities,  and  extensive  learning.     K. 

6  Julian  flourished  at  the  close  of  the  fourth  century.     He  became  an  apos 
tate  from  Christianity,  partly  on  account  of  his  aversion  to  the  family  of  Con 
stantino,  who  had  put  several  of  his  relatives  to  death,  and  partly  on  account 
of  the  seductive  artifices  of  the  Platonic  philosophers,  "who  abused  his  credu 
lity  and  flattered  his  ambition.     K. 

''goer,  iii.  ch.  12. 


46  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

The  sophists,  by  whom  Julian  was  surrounded,  assailed  the 
Christian  religion  with  the  utmost  violence.  The  emperor  him 
self  did  not  disdain  to  combat  those  whom  he  styled  contemptible 
Galileans.  The  work  which  he  wrote  has  not  reached  us;  but 
St.  Cyril,  Patriarch  of  Alexandria,  quotes  several  passages  of  it 
in  his  refutation,  which  has  been  preserved.  When  Julian  is 
serious,  St.  Cyril  proves  too  strong  for  him;  but  when  the  Em 
peror  has  recourse  to  irony,  the  Patriarch  loses  his  advantage. 
Julian's  style  is  witty  and  animated;  Cyril  is  sometimes  passion 
ate,  obscure,  and  confused.  From  the  time  of  Julian  to  that  of 
Luther,  the  Church,  nourishing  in  full  vigor,  had  no  occasion  for 
apologists ;  but  when  the  western  schism  took  place,  with  new 
enemies  arose  new  defenders.  It  cannot  be  denied  that  at  first 
the  Protestants  had  the  superiority,  at  least  in  regard  to  forms, 
as  Montesquieu  has  remarked.  Erasmus  himself  was  weak  when 
opposed  to  Luther,  and  Theodore  Beza  had  a  captivating  manner 
of  writing,  in  which  his  opponents  were  too  often  deficient. 

When  Bossuet  at  length  entered  the  lists,  the  victory  remained 
not  long  undecided ;  the  hydra  of  heresy  was  once  more  over 
thrown.  His  Exposition  de  la  Doctrine  Catholique  and  His- 
toire  des  Variations,  are  two  master-pieces,  which  will  descend  to 
posterity. 

It  is  natural  for  schism  to  lead  to  infidelity,  and  for  heresy  to 
engender  atheism.  Bayle  and  Spinosa  arose  after  Calvin,  and 
they  found  in  Clarke  and  Leibnitz  men  of  sufficient  talents  to 
refute  their  sophistry.  Abbadie  wrote  an  apology  for  religion, 
remarkable  for  method  and  sound  argument.  Unfortunately  his 
style  is  feeble,  though  his  ideas  are  not  destitute  of  brilliancy. 
"If  the  ancient  philosophers,"- observes  Abbadie,  "adored  the 
Virtues,  their  worship  was  only  a  beautiful  species  of  idolatry." 

While  the  Church  was  yet  enjoying  her  triumph,  Voltaire 
renewed  the  persecution  of  Julian.  He  possessed  the  baneful 
art  of  making  infidelity  fashionable  among  a  capricious  but 
amiable  people'.  Every  species  of  self-love  was  pressed  into  this 
insensate  league.  Religion  was  attacked  with  every  kind  of 
weapon,  from  the  pamphlet  to  the  folio,  from  the  epigram  to  the 
sophism.  No  sooner  did  a  religious  book  appear  than  the  author 
was  overwhelmed  with  ridicule,  while  works  which  Voltaire  was 
the  first  to  laugh  at  among  his  friends  were  extolled  to  the  skies. 


INTRODUCTION.  47 

Such  was  his  superiority  over  his  disciples,  that  sometimes  he 
could  not  forbear  diverting  himself  with  their  irreligious  enthu 
siasm.  Meanwhile  the  destructive  system  continued  to  spread 
throughout  France.  It  was  first  adopted  in  those  provincial  aca 
demies,  each  of  which  was  a  focus  of  bad  taste  and  faction. 
Women  of  fashion  and  grave  philosophers  alike  read  lectures  on 
infidelity.  It  was  at  length  concluded  that  Christianity  was  no 
better  than  a  barbarous  system,  and  that  its  fall  could  not  happen 
too  soon  for  the  liberty  of  mankind,  the  promotion  of  knowledge, 
the  improvement  of  the  arts,  and  the  general  comfort  of  life. 

To  say  nothing  of  the  abyss  into  which  we  were  plunged  by 
this  aversion  to  the  religion  of  the  gospel,  its  immediate  conse 
quence  was  a  return,  more  affected  than  sincere,  to  that  mytho 
logy  of  Greece  and  Home  to  which  all  the  wonders  of  antiquity 
were  ascribed.1  People  were  not  ashamed  to  regret  that  worship 
which  had  transformed  mankind  into  a  herd  of  madmen,  mon 
sters  of  indecency,  or  ferocious  beasts.  This  could  not  fail  to 
inspire  contempt  for  the  writers  of  the  age  of  Louis  XIV.,  who, 
however,  had  reached  the  high  perfection  which  distinguished 
them,  only  by  being  religious.  If  no  one  ventured  to  oppose 
them  face  to  face,  on  account  of  their  firmly-established  reputa 
tion,  they  were,  nevertheless,  attacked  in  a  thousand  indirect  ways. 
It  was  asserted  that  they  were  unbelievers  in  their  hearts;  or,  at 
least,  that  they  would  have  been  much  greater  characters  had 
they  lived  in  oar  times.  Every  author  blessed  his  good  fortune 
for  having  been  born  in  the  glorious  age  of  the  Diderots  and 
d'Aleruberts,  in  that  age  when  all  the  attainments  of  the  human 
mind  were  ranged  in  alphabetical  order  in  the  Encyclopedic) 
that  Babel  of  the  sciences  and  of  reason.3 

Men  distinguished  for  their  intelligence  and  learning  endea 
vored  to  check  this  torrent;  but  their  resistance  was  vain.  Their 
voice  was  lost  in  the  clamors  of  the  crowd,  and  their  victory  was 
unknown  to  the  frivolous  people  who  directed  public  opinion  in 
Prance,  and  upon  whom,  for  that  reason,  it  was  highly  necessary 
to  make  an  impression.3 

1  The  age  of  Louis  XIV.,  though  it  knew  and  admired  antiquity  more  than 
we,  was  a  Christian  age. 

2  See  nots  A  at  the  end  of  the  volume. 

'  The  Lettrea  de  quelque*  Jui.fx  Portuyais  had  a  momentary  success,  but  it 


48  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Thus,  the  fatality  which  had  given  a  triumph  to  the  sophists 
iuring  the  reign  of  Julian,  made  them  victorious  in  our  times. 
The  defenders  of  the  Christians  fell  into  an  error  which  had 
before  undone  them  :  they  did  not  perceive  that  the  question 
was  no  longer  to  discuss  this  or  that  particular  tenet  since  the 
very  foundation  on  which  these  tenets  were  built  was  rejected  by 
their  opponents.  By  starting  from  the  mission  of  Jesus  Christ, 
and  descending  from  one  consequence  to  another,  they  established 
the  truths  of  faith  on  a  solid  basis ;  but  this  mode  of  reasoning, 
wliich  might  have  suited  the  seventeenth  century  extremely  well, 
when  the  groundwork  was  not  contested,  proved  of  no  use  ic 
our  days.  It  was  necessary  to  pursue  a  contrary  method,  and  to 
ascend  from  the  effect  to  the  cause ;  not  to  prove  that  the  Chris 
tian  rcliyion  is  excellent  because  it  comes  from  God,  but  that  it 
comes  from  God  because  it  is  excellent. 

They  likewise  committed  another  error  in  attaching  import 
ance  to  the  serious  refutation  of  the  sophists ;  a  class  of  men  whom 
it  is  utterly  impossible  to  convince,  because  they  are  always  in 
the  wrong.  They  overlooked  the  fact  that  these  people  are  never 
in  earnest  in  their  pretended  search  after  truth ;  that  they  esteem 
none  but  themselves ;  that  they  are  not  even  attached  to  their 
own  system,  except  for  the  sake  of  the  noise  which  it  makes, 
and  are  ever  ready  to  forsake  it  on  the  first  change  of  public 
opinion. 

For  not  having  made  this  remark,  much  time  and  trouble 
were  thrown  away  by  those  who  undertook  the  vindication  of 
Christianity.  Their  object  should  have  been  to  reconcile  to 
religion,  not  the  sophists,  but  those  whom  they  were  leading 
astray.  They  had  been  seduced  by  being  told  that  Christianity 
was  the  offspring  of  barbarism,  an  enemy  of  the  arts  and  sciences, 
of  reason  and  refinement ;  a  religion  whose  only  tendency  was 
to  encourage  bloodshed,  to  enslave  mankind,  to  diminish  their 
happiness,  and  to  retard  the  progress  of  the  human  under 
standing. 

It  was,  therefore,  necessary  to  prove  that,  on  the  contrary,  the 
Christian  religion,  of  all  the  religions  that  ever  existed,  is  the 
most  humane,  the  most  favorable  to  liberty  and  to  the  arts  and 

was    soon   lost   sight   of   in  the   irreligious   storm   that  was  gathering   over 
France. 


INTRODUCTION.  49 

scieuocs;  that  the  modern  world  is  irdebted  to  it  for  every  im 
provement,  from  agriculture  to  the  abstract  sciences — from  the 
hospitals  for  the  reception  of  the  unfortunate  to  the  temples 
reared  by  the  Michael  Angelos  and  embellished  by  the  Ra 
phaels.  It  was  necessary  to  prove  that  nothing  is  more  divine 
than  its  morality — nothing  more  lovely  and  more  sublime  than 
its  tenets,  its  doctrine,  and  its  worship;  that  it  encourages  genius, 
corrects  the  taste,  develops  the  virtuous  passions,  imparts  energy 
to  the  ideas,  presents  noble  images  to  the  writer,  and  perfect 
models  to  the  artist ;  that  there  is  no  disgrace  in  being  believers 
with  Newton  and  Bossuet,  with  Pascal  and  Racine.  In  a  word, 
it  was  necessary  to  summon  all  the  charms  of  the  imagination, 
and  all  the  interests  of  the  heart,  to  the  assistance  of  that  reli 
gion  against  which  they  had  been  set  in  array. 

The  reader  may  now  have  a  clear  view  of  the  object  of  our 
work.  All  other  kinds  of  apologies  are  exhausted,  and  perhaps 
they  would  be  useless  at  the  present  day.  Who  would  now  sit 
down  to  read  a  work  professedly  theological  ?  Possibly  a  few 
sincere  Christians  who  are  already  convinced.  But,  it  may  be 
asked,  may  there  not  be  some  danger  in  considering  religion  in  a 
merely  human  point  of  view?  Why  so?  Does  our  religion 
shrink  from  the  light?  Surely  one  great  proof  of  its  divine 
origin  is,  that  it  will  bear  the  test  of  the  fullest  and  severest 
scrutiny  of  reason.  Would  you  have  us  always  open  to  the  re 
proach  of  enveloping  our  tenets  in  sacred  obscurity,  lest  their 
falsehood  should  be  detected  ?  Will  Christianity  be  the  less 
true  for  appearing  the  more  beautiful  ?  Let  us  banish  our  weak 
apprehensions ;  let  us  not,  by  an  excess  of  religion,  leave  religion 
to  perish.  We  no  longer  live  in  those  times  when  you  might 
say,  "  Believe  without  inquiring/'  People  will  inquire  in  spite 
of  us;  and  our  timid  silence,  in  heightening  the  triumph  of  the 
infidel,  will  diminish  the  number  of  believers. 

It  is  time  that  the  world  should  know  to  what  all  those  charges 
of  absurdity,  vulgarity,  and  meanness,  that  are  daily  alleged 
against  Christianity,  may  be  reduced.  It  is  time  to  demonstrate, 
that,  instead  of  debasing  the  ideas,  it  encourages  the  soul  to  take 
the  most  daring  flights,  and  is  capable  of  enchanting  the  imagi 
nation  as  divinely  as  the  deities  of  Homer  and  Virgil.  Our 
arguments  will  at  least  have  this  advantage,  that  they  will  be 
5  D 


50  (JKN1US   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


intelligible  to  the  world  at  large,  and  will  require  nothing  but 
common  sense  to  determine  their  weight  and  strength.  In 
works  of  this  kind  authors  neglect,  perhaps  rather  too  much,  to 
speak  the  language  of  their  readers.  It  is  necessary  to  be  a 
scholar  with  a  scholar,  and  a  poet  with  a  poet.  The  Almighty 
does  not  forbid  us  to  tread  the  flowery  path,  if  it  serves  to  lead 
the  wanderer  once  more  to  him ;  nor  is  it  always  by  the  steep 
and  rugged  mountain  that  the  lost  sheep  finds  its  way  back  to 
the  fold. 

We  think  that  this  mode  of  considering  Christianity  displays 
associations  of  ideas  which  are  but  imperfectly  known.  Sublime 
in  the  antiquity  of  its  recollections,  which  go  back  to  the  crea 
tion  of  the  world,  ineffable  in  its  mysteries,  adorable  in  its 
sacraments,  interesting  in  its  history,  celestial  in  its  morality, 
rich  and  attractive  in  its  ceremonial,  it  is  fraught  with  every 
species  of  beauty.  Would  you  follow  it  in  poetry?  Tasso,  Mil 
ton,  Corneille,  Racine,  Voltaire,  will  depict  to  you  its  miraculous 
effects.  In  the  belles-lettres,  in  eloquence,  history,  and  philoso 
phy,  what  have  not  Bossuet,  Fenelon,  Massillon,  Bourdaloue, 
Bacon,  Pascal,  Kuler,  Newton,  Leibnitz,  produced  by  its  divine 
inspiration  !  In  the  arts,  what  master-pieces  !  If  you  examine 
it  in  its  worship,  what  ideas  are  suggested  by  its  antique  Gothic 
churches,  its  admirable  prayers,  its  impressive  ceremonies  ! 
Among  its  clergy,  behold  all  those  scholars  who  have  handed 
down  to  you  the  languages  and  the  works  of  Greece  and  Rome ; 
all  those  anchorets  of  Thebais ;  all  those  asylums  for  the  unfor 
tunate;  all  those  missionaries  to  China,  to  Canada,  to  Paraguay; 
not  forgetting  the  military  orders  whence  chivalry  derived  its 
origin.  Every  thing  has  been  engaged  in  our  cause — the  man 
ners  of  our  ancestors,  the  pictures  of  days  of  yore,  poetry,  even 
romances  themselves.  We  have  called  smiles  from  the  cradle, 
and  tears  from  the  tomb.  Sometimes,  with  the  Maronite  monk, 
we  dwell  on  the  summits  of  Carmel  and  Lebanon ;  at  others  we 
watch  with  the  Daughter  of  Charity  at  the  bedside  of  the  sick. 
Here  two  American  lovers  summon  us  into  the  recesses  of  their 
deserts;1  there  we  listen  to  the  sighs  of  the  virgin  in  the  solitude 

1  The  author  alludes  to  the  very  beautiful  and  pathetic  tale  of  Atnla,  or  The 
Love  and  Constancy  of  Two  Savages  in  the  Desert,  which  was  at  first  ntroduced 
into  the  present  work,  but  was  afterward  detached  from  it.  T. 


NATURE    OF   MYSTERIES.  51 

of  the  cloister. .  Homer  takes  his  place  by  Milt  on,  at  d  Virgil 
beside  Tasso ;  the  ruins  of  Athens  and  of  Memphis  form  con 
trasts  with  the  ruins  of  Christian  monuments,  and  the  tombs  of 
Ossian  with  our  rural  churchyards.  At  St.  Dennis  we  visit  the 
ashes  of  kings ;  and  when  our  subject  requires  us  to  treat  of  the 
existence  of  Grod,  we  seek  our  proofs  in  the  wonders  of  Nature 
alone.  In  short,  we  endeavor  to  strike  the  heart  of  the  infidel 
in  every  possible  way;  but  we  dare  not  natter  ourselves  that  we 
possess  the  miraculous  rod  of  religion  which  caused  living 
streams  to  burst  from  the  flinty  rock. 

Four  parts,  each  divided  into  six  books,  compose  the  whole  of 
our  work.  The  first  treats  of  dogma  and  doctrine.  The  second 
and  third  comprehend  the  poetic  of  Christianity,  or  its  con 
nection  with  poetry,  literature,  and  the  arts.  The  fourth  em 
braces  its  worship, — that  is  to  say,  whatever  relates  to  the  ceremo 
nies  of  the  Church,  and  to  the  clergy,  both  secular  and  regular. 

We  have  frequently  compared  the  precepts,  doctrines,  and 
worship  of  other  religions  with  those  of  Christianity;  and,  to  gra 
tify  all  classes  of  readers,  we  have  also  occasionally  touched  upon 
the  historical  and  mystical  part  of  the  subject.  Having  thus 
stated  the  general  plan  of  the  work,  we  shall  now  enter  upon 
that  portion  of  it  which  treats  of  Dogma  and  Doctrine,  and,  as  a 
preliminary  step  to  the  consideration  of  the  Christian  mysteries, 
we  shall  institute  an  inquiry  into  the  nature  of  mysterious  things 
in  general 


CHAPTER   II. 

OP   THE    NATURE    OF    MYSTERIES. 

THERE  is  nothing  beautiful,  pleasing,  or  grand  in  life,  but 
that  which  is  more  or  less  mysterious.  The  most  wonderful  sen 
timents  are  those  which  produce  impressions  difficult  to  be 
explained.  Modesty,  chaste  love,  virtuous  friendship,  are  full  of 
secrets.  It  would  seem  that  half  a  word  is  sufficient  for  the 
mutual  understanding  of  hearts  that  love,  and  that  they  are,  aa 
it  were,  disclosed  to  each  other's  view.  Is  not  innocence,  also, 


52  GENIUS    OF    CHRISTIANITY. 

which  is  nothing  but  a  holy  ignorance,  the  most  ineffable  of  mys 
teries?  If  infancy  is  so  happy,  it  is  owing  to  the  absence  of 
knowledge ;  and  if  old  age  is  so  wretched,  it  is  because  it  knows 
every  thing;  but,  fortunately  for  the  latter,  when  the  mysteries 
of  life  are  at  an  end,  those  of  death  commence. 

What  we  say  here  of  the  sentiments  may  be  said  also  of  the 
virtues  :  the  most  angelic  are  those  which,  emanating  immedi 
ately  from  God,  such  as  charity,  studiously  conceal  themselves, 
like  their  source,  from  mortal  view. 

If  we  pass  to  the  qualities  of  the  mind,  we  shall  find  that  the 
pleasures  of  the  understanding  are  in  like  manner  secrets.  Mys 
tery  is  of  a  nature  so  divine,  that  the  early  inhabitants  of  Asia 
conversed  only  by  symbols.  What  science  do  we  continually 
apply,  if  not  that  which  always  leaves  something  to  be  conjec 
tured,  and  which  sets  before  our  eyes  an  unbounded  prospect? 
If  we  wander  in  the  desert,  a  kind  of  instinct  impels  us  to  avoid 
the  plains,  where  we  can  embrace  every  object  at  a  single  glance; 
we  repair  to  those  forests,  the  cradle  of  religion, — those  forests 
whose  shades,  whose  sounds,  and  whose  silence,  are  full  of  won 
der^ — those  solitudes,  where  the  first  fathers  of  the  Church  were 
fed  by  the  raven  and  the  bee,  and  where  those  holy  men  tasted 
such  inexpressible  delights,  as  to  exclaim,  " Enough,  0  Lord!  I 
will  be  overpowered  if  thou  dost  not  moderate  thy  divine  com 
munications."  We  do  not  pause  at  the  foot  of  a  modern  monu 
ment;  but  if,  in  a  desert  island,  in  the  midst  of  the  wide  ocean, 
we  come  all  at  once  to  a  statue  of  bronze,  whose  extended  arm 
points  to  the  regions  of  the  setting  sun,  and  whose  base,  covered 
with  hieroglyphics,  attests  the  united  ravages  of  the  billows  and 
of  time,  what  a  fertile  source  of  meditation  is  here  opened  to  the 
traveller !  There  is  nothing  in  the  universe  but  what  is  hidden, 
but  what  is  unknown.  Is  not  man  himself  an  inexplicable  mys 
tery?  Whence  proceeds  that  flash  of  lightning  which  we  call 
existence,  and  in  what  night  is  it  about  to  be  extinguished? 
The  Almighty  has  stationed  Birth  and  Death,  under  the  form  of 
veiled  phantoms,  at  the  two  extremities  of  our  career;  the  one 
produces  the  incomprehensible  moment  of  life,  which  the  other 
uses  every  exertion  to  destroy. 

Considering,  then,  the  natural  propensity  of  man  to  the  mys 
terious,  it  cannot  appear  surprising  that  the  religions  of  all  na- 


CHRISTIAN    MYSTERIES.  53 


tions  should  have  had  their  impenetrable  secrets.  The  Selli 
studied  the  miraculous  words  of  the  doves  of  Dodona  ;4  India, 
Persia,  Ethiopia,  Scythia,  the  Gauls,  the  Scandinavians,  had  their 
caverns,  their  holy  mountains,  their  sacred  oaks,  where  the 
Brahmins,  the  Magi,  the  Gymnosophists,  or  the  Druids,  pro 
claimed  the  inexplicable  oracle  of  the  gods. 

Heaven  forbid  that  we  should  have  any  intention  to  compare 
these  mysteries  with  those  of  the  true  religion,  or  the  inscrutable 
decrees  of  the  Sovereign  of  the  Universe  with  the  changing 
ambiguities  of  gods,  "the  work  of  human  hands."3  We  merely 
wished  to  remark  that  there  is  no  religion  without  mysteries; 
these,  with  sacrifices,  constitute  the  essential  part  of  worship. 
God  himself  is  the  great  secret  cf  Nature.  The  Divinity  was 
represented  veiled  in  Egypt,  and  the  sphinx  was  seated  upon  the 
threshold  of  the  temples.3 


CHAPTER  III. 

OP   THE    CHRISTIAN    MYSTERIES. 

The  Trinity. 

WE  perceive  at  the  first  glance,  that,  in  regard  to  mysteries, 
the  Christian  religion  has  a  great  advantage  over  the  religions  of 
antiquity.  The  mysteries  of  the  latter  bore  no  relation  to  man, 
and  afforded,  at  the  utmost,  but  a  subject  of  reflection  to  the 
philosopher  or  of  song  to  the  poet.  Our  mysteries,  on  the  con- 

1  They  were  an  ancient  people  of  Epirus,  and  lived  near  Dodona.     At  that 
place  there  was  a  celebrated  temple  of  Jupiter.     The  oracles  were  said  tc   be 
delivered   from   it  by  doves  endowed  with  a  human  voice.     Herodotus  relates 
that  a  priestess  was  brought  hither  from  Egypt  by  the  Phoenicians;  so  the 
Btorv  of  the  doves  might  arise  from  the  ambiguity  of  the  Greek  term  lltXcia, 
nhrch  signifies  a  dove,  in  the  general  language,  but  in  the  dialect  of  Epirus  it 
Means  an  aged  woman.     K. 

2  Wisdom,  ch.  xiii.  v.  10. 

3  The  Sphinx,  a  monstrous  creature  of  Egyptian  invention,  was  the  just  em 
blem  of  mystery,  as,  according  to  the  Grecian  mythology,  she  not  only  infested 
Bceotia  with  her  depredations,  but  perplexed  its  inhabitants,  not  famed  for 
their  acuteness,  with  her  enigmas.     K. 

5* 


54  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

trary,  speak  directly  to  the  heart;  they  comprehend  the  secrets 
of  our  existence.  The  question  here  is  not  about  a  futile  ar 
rangement  of  numbers,  but  concerning  the  salvation  and  felicity 
of  the  human  race.  Is  it  possible  for  man,  whom  daily  expe 
rience  so  fully  convinces  of  his  ignorance  and  frailty,  to  reject 
the  mysteries  of  Jesus  Christ  ?  They  are  the  mysteries  of  the  un 
fortunate  ! 

The  Trinity,  which  is  the  first  mystery  presented  by  the 
Christian  faith,  opens  an  immense  field  for  philosophic  study, 
whether  we  consider  it  in  the  attributes  of  God,  or  examine  the 
vestiges  of  this  dogma,  which  was  formerly  diffused  throughout 
the  East.  It  is  a  pitiful  mode  of  reasoning  to  reject  whatever 
we  cannot  comprehend.  It  would  be  easy  to  prove,  beginning 
even  with  the  most  simple  things  in  life,  that  we  know  absolutely 
nothing;  shall  we,  then,  pretend  to  penetrate  into  the  depths 
of  divine  Wisdom? 

The  Trinity  was  probably  known  to  the  Egyptians.  The 
Greek  inscription  on  the  great  obelisk  in  the  Circus  Major,  at 
Rome,  was  to  this  effect : — 

Mfyac;  0e<k,  The  Mighty  God;  8  soy  tyros,  the  Begotten  of 
God;  Haiupzyjr^,  the  All-Resplendent,  (Apollo,  the  Spirit.) 

Heraclides  of  Pontus,  and  Porphyry,  record  a  celebrated  oracle 
of  Serapis: — 

rjpwra  0£0j,  fjt£T£n£ira  Xdyoj  KO.I  itvcv^a  ai>i>  aiiroif. 
^Vfifpvra  <3>j  rpia  rrdfra,  ical  ci$  tv  i6vra, 

"In  the  beg  inning  was  God,  then  the  Word  and  the  Spirit; 
all  three  produced  together,  and  uniting  in  one." 

The  Magi  had  a  sort  of  Trinity,  in  their  Metris,  Oromasis,  and 
Araminis;  or  Mitra,  Oramases,  and  Arimane. 

Plato  seems  to  allude  to  this  incomprehensible  dogma  in  seve 
ral  of  his  works.  "Not  only  is  it  alleged,"  says  Dacier,  "that 
he  had  a  knowledge  of  the  Word,  the  eternal  Son  of  God,  but  it 
is  also  asserted  that  he  was  acquainted  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  and 
thus  had  some  idea  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity;  for  he  writes  as 
follows  to  the  younger  Dionysius : — 

«"I  must  give  Archedemus  an  explanation  respecting  what  is 
infinitely  more  important  and  more  divine,  and  what  you  are  ex 
tremely  anxious  to  know,  since  you  have  sent  him  to  me  for  the 
express  purpose;  for,  from  what  he  has  told  me,  you  are  of  opi 


CHRISTIAN  MYSTERIES.  55 


nion  that  I  have  not  sufficiently  explained  what  I  thii.k  of  the 
nature  of  the  first  principle.  I  am  obliged  to  write  to  you  in 
enigmas,  that,  if  my  letter  should  be  intercepted  either  by  land 
or  sea,  those  who  read  may  not  be  able  to  understand  it.  All 
things  are  around  their  king;  they  exist  for  him,  and  he  alone 
is  the  cause  of  good  things — second  for  such  as  are  second,  and 
third  for  those  that  are  third/1 

"In  the  Epinomit,  and  elsewhere,  he  lays  down  as  principles 
the  first  good,  the  word  or  the  understanding,  and  the  soul. 
The  first  good  is  God;  the  word,  or  the  understanding,  is  the  Son 
of  this  first  good,  by  whom  he  was  begotten  like  to  himself;  and 
the  soul,  which  is  the  middle  term  between  the  Father  and  the 
Son,  is  the  Holy  Ghost."3 

Plato  had  borrowed  this  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  from  Timaeus, 
the  Locrian,  who  had  received  it  from  the  Italian  school.  Mar- 
silius  Ficinus,  in  one  of  his  remarks  on  Plato,  shows,  after  Jam- 
blichus,  Porphyry,  Plato,  and  Maximus  of  Tyre,  that  the  Pytha 
goreans  were  acquainted  with  the  excellence  of  the  number 
Three.  Pythagoras  intimates  it  in  these  words:  llporiaa  TO 
ff^fj-a,  xai  flrt[j.a  xal  TptwSokov  ;  "Honor  chiefly  the  habit,  the 
judgment-seat,  and  the  triobolus,"  (three  oboli.) 

The  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  is  known  in  the  East  Indies  and 
in  Thibet.  "On  this  subject,"  says  Father  Calamette,  "the  most 
remarkable  and  surprising  thing  that  I  have  met  with  is  a  pas 
sage  in  one  of  their  books  entitled  Lamaastambam.  It  begins 
thus :  t  The  Lord,  the  good,  the  great  God,  in  his  mouth  is  the 
Word.'  The  term  which  they  employ  personifies  the  Word.  It 
then  treats  of  the  Holy  Ghost  under  the  appellation  of  the  Wind, 
or  Perfect  Spirit,  and  concludes  with  the  Creation,  which  it 
attributes  to  one  single  God."3 

"What  I  have  learned,"  observes  the  same  missionary  in  an 
other  place,  "respecting  the  religion  of  Thibet,  is  as  follows :  They 
call  God  Konciosa,  and  seem  to  have  some  idea  of  the  adorable 
Trinity,  for  sometimes  they  term  him  Koncikocick,  the  one  God, 

1  This  passage  of  Plato,  which  the  author  could  not  verify,  from  its  having 
been   incorrectly  quoted  by  Dacier,  may  be  found  in  Plato  Serrani,  tome  i.  p. 
312,  letter  the  second  to  Dionysius.     The  letter  is  supposed  to  be  genuine.     K. 

2  (Euvres  de  Platon,  trad,  par  Dacier,  tome  i.  p.  194 
8  Lettres  edif.,  tome  xiv.  p.  9. 


56^  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

and  at  others  Konciolimm,  which  is  equivalent  to  the  Triune  God. 
They  make  use  of  a  kind  of  chaplet,  over  which  they  pronounce 
the  words,  om,  ha,  hum.  When  you  ask  what  these  mean,  they 
reply  that  the  first  signifies  intelligence,  or  arm,  that  is  to  say, 
power;  that  the  second  is  the  word;  that  the  third  is  the  heart, 
or  love;  and  that  these  three  words  together  signify  God/'1 

The  English  missionaries  to  Otaheite  have  found  some  notion 
of  the  Trinity  among  the  natives  of  that  island.2 

Nature  herself  seems  to  furnish  a  kind  of  physical  proof  of  the 
Trinity,  which  is  the  archetype  of  the  universe,  or,  if  you  wish, 
its  divine  frame-work.  May  not  the  external  and  material  world 
bear  some  impress  of  that  invisible  and  spiritual  arch  which  sus 
tains  it,  according  to  Plato's  idea,  who  represented  corporeal 
things  as  the  shadows  of  the  thoughts  of  God?  The  number 
Three  is  the  term  by  excellence  in  nature.  It  is  not  a  product 
itself,  but  it  produces  all  other  fractions,  which  led  Pythagoras  to 
call  it  the  motherless  number.3 

Some  obscure  tradition  of  the  Trinity  may  be  discovered  even 
in  the  fables  of  polytheism.  The  Graces  took  it  for  their  num 
ber  ;  it  existed  in  Tartarus  both  for  the  life  and  death  of  man 
and  for  the  infliction  of  celestial  vengeance ;  finally,  three  bro 
ther  gods4  possessed  among  them  the  complete  dominion  of  the 
universe. 

The  philosophers  divided  the  moral  man  into  three  parts;  and 
the  Fathers  imagi-ied  that  they  discovered  the  image  of  the 
spiritual  Trinity  in  the  human  soul. 

1  Lettres  edif.,  torn.  xii.  p.  437. 

2  "  The  three  deities  which  they  hold  supreme  arc — 

1.  Tane,  te  Medooa,  the  Father. 

2.  Oromattow,  God  in  the  Son. 

3.  Taroa,  the  Bird,  the  Spirit." 

Appendix  to  the  Missionary  Voyage,  p.  333.     K . 

3  Hier.,  Comm.  in  Pyth.     The  3,  a  simple  number  itself,  is  the  only  one  com 
posed  of  simples,  and  that  gives  a  simple  number  when  decomposed.     We  can 
form  no  complex  number,  the  2  excepted,  without  the  3.     The  formations  of 
the  3  are  beautiful,  and  embrace  that  powerful  unity  which  is  the  first  link  in 
the  chain  of  numbers,  and  is  everywhere  exhibited  in  the  universe.     The  an 
cients  very  frequently  applied  numbers  in  a  metaphysical  sense,  and  we  should 
not  be   too  hasty  in   condemning  it  as  folly  in   Pythagoras,  Plato,  and   the 
Egyptian  priests,  from  whom  they  derived  this  science. 

4  That  is,  Jupiter,  Neptune,  and  Pluto.     K. 


CHRISTIAN   MYSTERIES.  57 


"  If  we  impose  silence  on  our  senses,"  says  the  great  Bossuet,  • 
"  and  retire  for  a  short  time  into  the  recesses  of  our  soul,  that  is 
to  say,  into  that  part  where  the  voice  of  truth  is  heard,  we  shall 
there  perceive  a  sort  of  image  of  the  Trinity  whom  we  adore. 
Thought,  which  we  feel  produced  as  the  offspring  of  our  mind, 
as  the  son  of  our  understanding,  gives  us  some  idea  of  the  Son 
of  God,  conceived  from  all  eternity  in  the  intelligence  of  the 
celestial  Father.  For  this  reason  this  Son  of  God  assumes  the 
name  of  the  Word,  to  intimate  that  he  is  produced  in  the  bosom 
of  the  Father,  not  as  bodies  are  generated,  but  as  the  inward 
voice  that  is  heard  within  our  souls  there  arises  when  we  contem 
plate  truth. 

"  But  the  fecundity  of  the  mind  does  not  stop  at  this  inward 
voice,  this  intellectual  thought,  this  image  of  the  truth  that  is 
formed  within  us.  We  love  both  this  inward  voice  and  the 
intelligence  which  gives  it  birth ;  and  while  we  love  them,  we 
feel  within  us  something  which  is  not  less  precious  to  us  than 
intelligence  and  thought,  which  is  the  fruit  of  both,  which  unites 
them  and  unites  with  them,  and  forms  with  them  but  one  and 
the  same  existence. 

"  Thus,  as  far  as  there  can  be  any  resemblance  between  God 
and  man,  is  produced  in  God  the  eternal  Love  which  springs  from 
the  Father  who  thinks,  and  from  the  Son  who  is  his  thought,  to 
constitute  with  him  and  his  thought  one  and  the  same  nature, 
equally  happy  and  equally  perfect."1 

What  a  beautiful  commentary  is  this  on  that  passage  of  Gene 
sis  :  "Let  us  make  man!" 

Tertullian,  in  his  Apology,  thus  expresses  himself  on  this 
great  mystery  of  our  religion :  fi  God  created  the  world  by  his 
•word,  his  reason,  and  his  power.  You  philosophers  admit  that 
the  Logos,  the  word  and  reason,  is  the  Creator  of  the  universe. 
The  Christians  merely  add  that  the  proper  substance  of  the  word 
and  reason — that  substance  by  which  God  produced  all  things — 
is  spirit;  that  this  word  must  have  been  pronounced  by  God; 
that  having  been  pronounced,  it  was  generated  by  him ;  that  con 
sequently  it  is  the  Son  of  God,  and  God  by  reason  of  the  anity 
of  substance.  If  the  sun  shoots  forth  a  ray,  its  substance  .s  not 

1  Bossuet,  Hist.  Univ.,  sec.  i.  p.  248. 


58  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

separated,  but  extended.  Thus  the  Word  is  spirit  of  i.  spirit, 
and  God  of  God,  like  a  light  kindled  at  another  light.  Thus, 
whatever  proceeds  from  God  is  God,  and  the  two,  with  their 
spirit,  form  but  one,  differing  in  properties,  not  in  number;  in 
order,  not  in  nature :  the  Son  having  sprung  from  his  prin 
ciple  without  being  separated  from  it.  Now  this  ray  of  the 
Divinity  descended  into  the  womb  of  a  virgin,  invested  itself 
with  flesh,  and  became  man  united  with  God.  This  flesh,  sup 
ported  by  the  spirit,  was  nourished;  it  grew,  spoke,  taught, 
acted;  it  was  Christ." 

This  proof  of  the  Trinity  may  be  comprehended  by  persons 
of  the  simplest  capacity.  It  must  be  recollected  that  Tertullian 
was  addressing  men  who  persecuted  Christ,  and  whom  nothing 
would  have  more  highly  gratified  than  the  means  of  attacking 
the  doctrine,  and  even  the  persons,  of  his  defenders.  We  shall 
pursue  these  proofs  no  farther,  but  leave  them  to  those  who  have 
studied  the  principles  of  the  Italic  sect  of  philosophers  and  the 
higher  department  of  Christian  theology. 

As  to  the  images  that  bring  under  our  feeble  senses  the  most 
sublime  mystery  of  religion,  it  is  difficult  to  conceive  how  the 
awful  triangular  fire,  resting  on  a  cloud,  is  unbecoming  the  dig 
nity  of  poetry.  Is  Christianity  less  impressive  than  the  heathen 
mythology,  when  it  represents  to  us  the  Father  under  the  form 
of  an  old  man,  the  majestic  ancestor  of  ages,  or  as  a  brilliant 
effusion  of  light  ?  Is  there  not  something  wonderful  in  the  con 
templation  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  the  sublime  Spirit  of  Jehovah, 
under  the  emblem  of  gentleness,  love,  and  innocence?  Doth 
God  decree  the  propagation  of  his  word?  The  Spirit,  then, 
ceases  to  be  that  Dove  which  overshadowed  mankind  with  the 
wings  of  peace ;  he  becomes  a  visible  word,  a  tongue  of  fire, 
which  speaks  all  the  languages  of  the  earth,  and  whose  eloquence 
creates  or  overthrows  empires. 

To  delineate  the  divine  Son,  we  need  only  borrow  the  words 
of  the  apostle  who  beheld  him  in  his  glorified  state.  He  was 
seated  on  a  throne,  says  St.  John  in  the  Apocalypse ;  his  face 
shone  like  the  fsun  in  his  strength,  and  his  feet  like  fine  brass 
melted  in  a  furnace.  His  eyes  were  as  a  flame  of  fire,  and  out 
of  his  mouth  went  a  sharp  two-edged  sword.  In  his  right  hand 
he  held  seven  stars,  and  in  his  left  a  book  sealed  with  seven 


REDEMPTION. 


seals :  his  voice  was  as  the  sound  of  many  waters.  The  seven 
spirits  of  God  burned  before  him,  like  seven  lamps ;  and  he  went 
forth  from  his  throne  attended  by  lightnings,  and  voices,  and 
thunders. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

OF   THE   REDEMPTION. 

As  the  Trinity  comprehends  secrets  of  the  metaphysical  kind, 
80  the  redemption  contains  the  wonders  of  man,  and  the  inex 
plicable  history  of  his  destination  and  his  heart.  Were  we  to 
pause  a  little  in  our  meditations,  with  what  profound  astonish 
ment  would  we  contemplate  those  two  great  mysteries,  which 
conceal  in  their  shades  the  primary  intentions  of  God  and  the 
system  of  the  universe  !  The  Trinity,  too  stupendous  for  our 
feeble  comprehension,  confounds  our  thoughts,  and  we  shrink 
back  overpowered  by  its  glory.  But  the  affecting  mystery  of  the 
redemption,  in  filling  our  eyes  with  tears,  prevents  them  from 
being  too  much  dazzled,  and  allows  us  to  fix  them  at  least  for  a 
moment  upon  the  cross. 

We  behold,  in  the  first  place,  springing  from  this  mystery,  the 
doctrine  of  original  sin,  which  explains  the  whole  nature  of  man. 
Unless  we  admit  this  truth,  known  by  tradition  to  all  nations,  we 
become  involved  in  impenetrable  darkness.  Without  original 
sin,  how  shall  we  account  for  the  vicious  propensity  of  our  nature 
continually  combated  by  a  secret  voice  which  whispers  that  we 
were  formed  for  virtue  ?  Without  a  primitive  fall,  how  shall  we 
explain  the  aptitude  of  man  for  affliction — that  sweat  which 
fertilizes  the  rugged  soil ;  the  tears,  the  sorrows,  the  misfortunes 
of  the  righteous  ]  the  triumphs,  the  unpunished  success,  of  the 
wicked  ?  It  was  because  they  were  unacquainted  with  this  de 
generacy,  that  the  philosophers  of  antiquity  fell  into  such  strange 
errors,  and  invented  the  notion  of  reminiscence.  To  be  con 
vinced  of  the  fatal  truth  whence  springs  the  mystery  of  redemp 
tion,  we  need  no  other  proof  than  the  malediction  pronounced 
against  Eve, — a  malediction  which  is  daily  accomplished  before 


6)  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


our  eyes.  How  significant  are  the  pangs,  and  at  the  same  time 
the  joys,  of  a  mother !  What  mysterious  intimations  of  man  and 
his  twofold  destiny,  predicted  at  once  by  the  pains  and  pleasures 
of  child-birth  !  We  cannot  mistake  the  views  of  the  Most  High, 
when  we  behold  the  two  great  ends  of  man  in  the  labor  of  his 
mother;  and  we  are  compelled  to  recognise  a  God  even  in  a 
malediction. 

After  all,  we  daily  see  the  son  punished  for  the  father,  and  the 
crime  of  a  villain  recoiling  upon  a  virtuous  descendant,  which 
proves  but  too  clearly  the  doctrine  of  original  sin.  But  a  God 
of  clemency  and  indulgence,  knowing  that  we  should  all  have 
perished  in  consequence  of  this  fall,  has  interposed  to  save  us. 
Frail  and  guilty  mortals  as  we  all  are,  let  us  ask,  not  our  under 
standings,  but  our  hearts,  how  a  God  could  die  for  man.  If  this 
perfect  model  of  a  dutiful  son,  if  this  pattern  of  faithful  friends, 
if  that  agony  in  Gethsemane,  that  bitter  cup,  that  bloody  sweat, 
that  tenderness  of  soul,  that  sublimity  of  mind,  that  cross,  that 
veil  rent  in  twain,  that  rock  cleft  asunder,  that  darkness  of  na 
ture — in  a  word,  if  that  God,  expiring  at  length  for  sinners,  can 
neither  enrapture  our  heart  nor  inflame  our  understanding,  it  is 
greatly  to  be  feared  that  our  works  will  never  exhibit,  like  those 
of  the  poet,  the  "  brilliant  wonders"  which  attract  a  high  and 
just  admiration. 

"  Images,"  it  may  perhaps  be  urged,  "  are  not  reasons ;  and 
we  live  in  an  enlightened  age,  which  admits  nothing  without 
proof." 

That  we  live  in  an  enlightened  age  has  been  doubted  by  some ; 
but  we  would  not  be  surprised  if  we  were  met  with  the  foregoing 
objection.  When  Christianity  was  attacked  by  serious  argu 
ments,  they  were  answered  by  an  Origen,  a  Clark,  a  Bossuet. 
Closely  pressed  by  these  formidable  champions,  their  adversaries 
endeavored  to  extricate  themselves  by  reproaching  religion  with 
those  very  metaphysical  disputes  in  which  they  would  involve  us. 
They  alleged,  like  Arius,  Celsus,  and  Porphyry,  that  Christianity 
is  but  a  tissue  of  subtleties,  offering  nothing  to  the  imagination 
and  the  heart,  and  adopted  only  by  madmen  and  simpletons.  But 
if  any  one  comes  forward,  and  in  reply  to  these  reproaches  en 
deavors  to  show  that  the  religion  of  the  gospel  is  the  religion  of 
the  soul,  fraught  with  sensibility,  its  foes  immediately  exclaim, 


REDEMPTION. 


"  Well,  and  what  does  that  prove,  except  that  you  are  more  or 
less  skilful  in  drawing  a  picture  V  Thus,  when  you  attempt  to 
work  upon  the  feelings,  they  require  axioms  and  corollaries.  If, 
on  the  other  hand,  you  begin  to  reason,  they  then  want  nothing 
but  sentiments  and  images.  It  is  difficult  to  close  with  such 
versatile  enemies,  who  are  never  to  be  found  at  the  post  where 
they  challenge  you  to  fight  them.  We  shall  hazard  a  few  words 
on  the  subject  of  the  redemption,  to  show  that  the  theology  of 
the  Christian  religion  is  not  so  absurd  as  some  have  affected  to 
consider  it. 

A  universal  tradition  teaches  us  that  man  was  created  in  a 
more  perfect  state  than  that  in  which  he  at  present  exists,  and 
that  there  has  been  a  fall.  This  tradition  is  confirmed  by  the 
opinion  of  philosophers  in  every  age  and  country,  who  have  never 
been  able  to  reconcile  their  ideas  on  the  subject  of  moral  man, 
without  supposing  a  primitive  state  of  perfection,  from  which 
human  nature  afterward  fell  by  its  own  fault. 

If  man  was  created,  he  was  created  for  some  end  :  now,  having 
been  created  perfect,  the  end  for  which  he  was  destined  could  not 
be  otherwise  than  "perfect. 

But  has  the  final  cause  of  man  been  changed  by  his  fall  ? 
No ;  since  man  has  not  been  created  anew,  nor  the  human  race 
exterminated  to  make  room  for  another. 

Man,  therefore,  though  he  has  become  mortal  and  imperfect 
through  his  disobedience,  is  still  destined  to  an  immortal  and 
perfect  end.  But  how  shall  he  attain  this  end  in  his  present 
state  of  imperfection  ?  This  he  can  no  longer  accomplish  by  his 
own  energy,  for  the  same  reason  that  a  sick  man  is  incapable  of 
raising  himself  to  that  elevation  of  ideas  which  is  attainable  by 
a  person  in  health.  There  is,  therefore,  a  disproportion  between 
the  power,  and  the  weight  to  be  raised  by  that  power;  here  we 
already  perceive  the  necessity  of  succor,  or  of  a  redemption. 

"This  kind  of  reasoning,"  it  may  be  said,  "will  apply  to  the 
first  man ;  but  as  for  us,  we  are  capable  of  attaining  the  ends  of 
our  existence.  What  injustice  and  absurdity,  to  imagine  that  we 
should  all  be  punished  for  the  fault  of  our  first  parent !"  With 
out  undertaking  to  decide  in  this  place  whether  God  is  right  or 
wrong  in  making  us  sureties  for  one  another,  all  that  we  know, 
and  all  that  it  is  necessary  for  us  to  know  at  present,  is,  that  such 


f52  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

a  law  exists.  We  know  that  the  innocent  son  universally  suffers 
the  punishment  due  to  the  guilty  father ;  that  this  law  is  so  in- 
terwoven  in  the  principles  of  things  as  to  hold  good  even  in  the 
physical  order  of  the  universe.  When  an  infant  comes  into  the 
world  diseased  from  head  to  foot  from  its  father's  excesses,  why 
do  you  not  complain  of  the  injustice  of  nature  ?  What  has  this 
little  innocent  done,  that  it  should  endure  the  punishment  of 
another's  vices  ?  Well,  the  diseases  of  the  soul  are  perpetuated 
like  those  of  the  body,  and  man  is  punished  in  his  remotest 
posterity  for  the  fault  which  introduced  into  his  nature  the  first 
leaven  of  sin. 

The  fall,  then,  being  attested  by  general  tradition,  and  by  the 
transmission  or  generation  of  evil,  both  moral  and  physical,  and, 
on  the  other  hand,  the  ends  for  which  man  was  designed  being 
now  as  perfect  as  before  his  disobedience,  notwithstanding  his 
own  degeneracy,  it  follows  that  a  redemption,  or  any  expedient 
whatever  to  enable  man  to  fulfil  those  ends,  is  a  natural  conse 
quence  of  the  state  into  which  human  nature  has  fallen. 

The  necessity  of  redemption  being  once  admitted,  let  us  seek 
the  order  in  which  it  may  be  found.  This  order  may  be  con 
sidered  either  in  man,  or  above  man. 

1.  In  man.  The  supposition  of  a  redemption  implies  that 
the  price  must  be  at  least  equivalent  to  the  thing  to  be  redeemed. 
Now,  how  is  it  to  be  imagined  that  imperfect  and  mortal  man 
could  have  offered  himself,  in  order  to  regain  a  perfect  and  im 
mortal  end  ?  How  could  man,  partaking  himself  of  the  primeval 
sin,  have  made  satisfaction  as  well  for  the  portion  of  guilt  which 
belonged  to  himself,  as  for  that  which  attached  to  the  rest 
of  the  human  family?  Would  not  such  self-devotion  have  re 
quired  a  love  and  virtue  superior  to  his  nature  ?  Heaven  seems 
purposely  to  have  suffered  four  thousand  years  to  elapse  from 
the  fall  to  the  redemption,  to  allow  men  time  to  judge,  of  them 
selves,  how  very  inadequate  their  degraded  virtues  were  for  such 
a  sacrifice. 

We  have  no  alternative,  then,  but  the  second  supposition, 
namely,  that  the  redemption  could  have  proceeded  only  from  a 
being  superior  to  man.  Let  us  examine  if  it  could  have  been 
accomplished  by  any  of  the  intermediate  beings  between  him 
and  God. 


REDEMPTION.  63 

It  was  a  beautiful  idea  of  Milton1  to  represent  the  Almighty 
announcing  the  fall  to  the  astonished  heavens,  and  asking  if  any 
of  the  celestial  powers  was  willing  to  devote  himself  for  the  sal 
vation  of  mankind.  All  the  divine  hierarchy  was  mute;  and 
among  so  many  seraphim,  thrones,  dominations,  angels,  and  arch 
angels,  none  had  the  courage  to  make  so  great  a  sacrifice.  No 
thing  can  be  more  strictly  true  in  theology  than  this  idea  of  the 
poet's.  What,  indeed,  could  have  inspired  the  angels  with  that 
unbounded  love  for  man  which  the  mystery  of  the  cross  supposes? 
Moreover,  how  could  the  most  exalted  of  created  spirits  have 
possessed  strength  sufficient  for  the  stupendous  task  ?  No  angelic 
substance  could,  from  the  weakness  of  its  nature,  have  taken  up 
on  itself  those  sufferings  which,  in  the  language  of  Massillon, 
accumulated  upon  the  head  of  Christ  all  the  physical  torments 
that  might  be  supposed  to  attend  the  punishment  of  all  the  sins 
committed  since  the  beginning  of  time,  and  all  the  moral  anguish, 
all  the  remorse,  which  sinners  must  have  experienced  for  crimes 
committed.  If  the  Son  of  Man  himself  found  the  cup  bitter, 
how  could  an  angel  have  raised  it  to  his  lips?  Oh,  no;  he  never 
could  have  drunk  it  to  the  dregs,  and  the  sacrifice  could  not  have 
been  consummated. 

We  could  not,  then,  have  any  other  redeemer  than  one  of  the 
three  persons  existing  from  all  eternity;  and  among  these  three 
persons  of  the  Godhead,  it  is  obvious  that  the  Son  alone,  from 
his  very  nature,  was  to  accomplish  the  great  work  of  salvation. 
Love  which  binds  together  all  the  parts  of  the  universe,  the 

i  Say,  heavenly  powers,  where  shall  we  find  such  love 
Which  of  you  will  be  mortal  to  redeem 
Man's  mortal  crime?  and  just,  th'  unjust  to  save? 
Dwells  in  all  heaven  charity  so  dear? 

He  ask'd,  but  all  the  heavenly  choir  stood  mute, 
And  silence  was  in  heaven :  on  man's  behalf 
Patron  or  intercessor  none  appear'd; 
Much  less  that  durst  upon  his  own  head  draw 
The  deadly  forfeiture,  and  ransom  set. 
And  now  without  redemption  all  mankind 
Must  have  been  lost,  adjudged  to  death  and  hell, 
By  doom  severe,  had  not  the  Son  of  God, 
In  whom  the  fulness  dwells  of  love  divine, 
His  dearest  mediation  thus  renew'd. 

PARADISE  LOST,  b.  iii.,  1.  213.     K. 


64  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Mean  which  unites  the  extremes,  Vivifying  Principle  of  nature, 
he  alone  was  capable  of  reconciling  God  with  man.  This  second 
Adam  came; — man  according  to  the  flesh,  by  his  birth  of  Mary; 
a  man  of  sanctity  by  his  gospel ;  a  man  divine  by  his  union  with 
the  Godhead.  He  was  born  of  a  virgin,  that  he  might  be  free 
from  original  sin  and  a  victim  without  spot  and  without  blemish. 
He  received  life  in  a  stable,  in  the  lowest  of  human  conditions, 
because  we  had  fallen  through  pride.  Here  commences  the  depth 
of  the  mystery;  man  feels  an  awful  emotion,  and  the  scene  closes. 
Thus,  the  end  for  which  we  were  destined  before  the  disobedi 
ence  of  our  first  parents  is  still  pointed  out  to  us,  but  the  way  to 
secure  it  is  no  longer  the  same.  Adam,  in  a  state  of  innocence, 
would  have  reached  it  by  flowery  paths :  Adam,  in  his  fallen 
condition,  must  cross  precipices  to  attain  it.  Nature  has  under 
gone  a  change  since  the  fall  of  our  first  parents,  and  redemption 
was  designed,  not  to  produce  a  new  creation,  but  to  purchase  final 
salvation  for  the  old.  Every  thing,  therefore,  has  remained  de 
generate  with  man;  and  this  sovereign  of  the  universe,  who, 
created  immortal,  was  destined  to  be  exalted,  without  any  change 
of  existence,  to  the  felicity  of  the  celestial  powers,  cannot  now 
enjoy  the  presence  of  God  till,  in  the  language  of  St.  Chrysostom, 
he  has  passed  through  the  deserts  of  the  tomb.  His  soul  has 
been  rescued  from  final  destruction  by  the  redemption;  but  hia 
body,  combining  with  the  frailty  natural  to  matter  the  weakness 
consequent  on  sin,  undergoes  the  primitive  sentence  in  its  utmost 
extent :  he  falls,  he  sinks,  he  passes  into  dissolution.  Thus  God, 
after  the  fall  of  our  first  parents,  yielding  to  the  entreaties  of 
his  Son,  and  unwilling  to  destroy  the  whole  of  his  work,  invented 
death,  as  a  demi-annihilation,  to  fill  the  sinner  with  horror  of  that 
complete  dissolution  to  which,  but  for  the  wonders  of  celestial 
love,  he  would  have  been  inevitably  doomed. 

We  venture  to  presume,  that,  if  there  be  any  thing  clear  in 
metaphysics,  it  is  this  chain  of  reasoning.  There  is  here  no 
wresting  of  words;  there  are  no  divisions  and  subdivisions,  no 
obscure  or  barbarous  terms.  Christianity  is  not  made  up  of  such 
things  as  the  sarcasms  of  infidelity  would  fain  have  us  imagine. 
To  the  poor  in  spirit  the  gospel  has  been  preached,  and  by  the 
poor  in  spirit  it  has  been  heard:  it  is  the  plainest  book  that 
exists.  Its  doctrine  has  not  its  seat  in  the  head,  but  in  the 


REDEMPTION.  (55 

heart;  it  teaches  not  the  art  of  disputation,  but  the  way  to  lead  a 
virtuous  life.  Nevertheless,  it  is  not  without  its  secrets.  What  is 
truly  ineffable  in  the  Scripture  is  the  continual  mixture  of  the 
profoundest  mysteries  and  the  utmost  simplicity — characters 
whence  spring  the  pathetic  and  the  sublime.  We  should  no 
longer  be  surprised,  then,  that  the  work  of  Jesus  Christ 
speaks  so  eloquently.  Such,  moreover,  are  the  truths  of  our  re 
ligion,  notwithstanding  their  freedom  from  scientific  parade,  that 
the  admission  of  one  single  point  immediately  compels  you  to 
admit  all  the  rest.  Nay,  more :  if  you  hope  to  escape  by  deny 
ing  the  principle, — as,  for  instance,  original  sin, — you  will  soon, 
driven  from  consequence  to  consequence,  be  obliged '  to  precipi 
tate  yourself  into  the  abyss  of  atheism.  The  moment  you  acknow 
ledge  a  God,  the  Christian  religion  presents  itself,  in  spite  of  you, 
with  all  its  doctrines,  as  Clarke  and  Pascal  have  observed.  This, 
in  our  opinion,  is  one  of  the  strongest  evidences  in  favor  of 
Christianity. 

In  short,  we  must  not  be  astonished  if  he  who  causes  millions 
of  worlds  to  roll  without  confusion  over  our  heads,  has  infused 
euch  harmony  into  the  principles  of  a  religion  instituted  by  him 
self;  we  need  not  be  astonished  at  his  making  the  charms  and 
the  glories  of  its  mysteries  revolve  in  the  circle  of  the  most  con 
vincing  logic,  as  he  commands  those  planets  to  revolve  in  their 
orbits  to  bring  us  flowers  and  storms  in  their  respective  seasons. 
We  can  scarcely  conceive  the  reason  of  the  aversion  shown  by 
the  present  age  for  Christianity.  If  it  be  true,  as  some  philoso 
phers  have  thought,  that  some  religion  or  other  is  necessary  for 
mankind,  what  system  would  you  adopt  instead  of  the  faith  of 
our  forefathers?  Long  shall  we  remember  the  days  when  men 
of  blood  pretended  to  erect  altars  to  the  Virtues,  on  the  ruins  of 
Christianity.1  With  one  hand  they  reared  scaffolds;  with  the 
other,  on  the  fronts  of  our  temples  they  inscribed  Eternity  to 
God  and  Death  to  man;  and  those  temples,  where  once  was 
found  that  God  who  is  acknowledged  by  the  whole  universe,  and 
where  devotion  to  Mary  consoled  so  many  afflicted  hearts, — those 
temples  were  dedicated  to  Truth,  which  no  man  knows,  and  to 
Reason,  which  never  dried  a  tear. 

1  The  author  alludes  to  the  disastrous  tyranny  exercised  by  Robespierre  over 
the  deluded  French  people.  K. 

6*  E 


66  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  V. 

OF   THE    INCARNATION. 

THE  Incarnation  exhibits  to  us  the  Sovereign  of  Heaven 
among  shepherds;  him  who  hurls  the  thunderbolt,  wrapped  in 
swaddling-clothes;  him  whom  the  heavens  cannot  contain,  con 
fined  in  the  womb  of  a  virgin.  Oh,  how  antiquity  would  have 
expatiated  in  praise  of  this  wonder !  What  pictures  would  a 
Homer  or  a  Virgil  have  left  us  of  the  Son  of  God  in  a  manger, 
of  the  songs  of  the  shepherds,  of  the  Magi  conducted  by  a  star, 
of  the  angels  descending  in  the  desert,  of  a  virgin  mother  ador 
ing  her  new-born  infant,  and  of  all  this  mixture  of  innocence, 
enchantment,  and  grandeur! 

Setting  aside  what  is  direct  and  sacred  in  our  mysteries,  we 
would  still  discover  under  their  veils  the  most  beautiful  truths  in 
nature.  These  secrets  of  heaven,  apart  from  their  mystical 
character,  are  perhaps  the  prototype  of  the  moral  and  physical 
laws  of  the  world.  The  hypothesis  is  well  worthy  the  glory  of 
God,  and  would  enable  us  to  discern  why  he  has  been  pleased 
to  manifest  himself  in  these  mysteries  rather  than  in  any  other 
mode.  Jesus  Christ,  for  instance,  (or  the  moral  world,)  in 
taking  our  nature  upon  him,  teaches  us  the  prodigy  of  the  phy 
sical  creation,  and  represents  the  universe  framed  in  the  bosom 
of  celestial  love.  The  parables  and  the  figures  of  this  mystery 
then  become  engraved  upon  every  object  around  us.  Strength, 
in  fact,  universally  proceeds  from  grace;  the  river  issues  from 
the  spring;  the  lion  is  first  nourished  with  milk  like  that  which  is 
sucked  by  the  lamb;  and  lastly,  among  mankind,  the  Almighty  has 
promised  ineffable  glory  to  those  who  practise  the  humblest  virtues. 

They  who  see  nothing  in  the  chaste  Queen  of  angels  but  an 
obscure  mystery  are  much  to  be  pitied.  What  touching  thoughts 
are  suggested  by  that  mortal  woman,  become  the  immortal 
mother  of  a  Saviour-God !  What  might  not  be  said  of  Mary, 
who  is  at  once  a  virgin  and  a  mother,  the  two  most  glorious  cha 
racters  of  woman ! — of  that  youthful  daughter  of  ancient  Israel, 


BAPTISM.  67 

who  presents  herself  for  the  relief  of  hum&.n  suffering,  and  sacri 
fices  a  son  for  the  salvation  of  her  paternal  race !  This  tender 
mediatrix  between  us  and  the  Eternal,  with  a  heart  full  of  com 
passion  for  our  miseries,  forces  us  to  confide  in  her  maternal 
aid,  and  disarms  the  vengeance  of  Heaven.  What  an  enchant 
ing  dogma,  that  allays  the  terror  of  a  God  by  causing  beauty  to 
intervene  between  our  nothingness  and  his  Infinite  Majesty ! 

The  anthems  of  the  Church  represent  the  Blessed  Mary  seated 
upon  a  pure-white  throne,  more  dazzling  than  the  snow.  We 
there  behold  her  arrayed  in  splendor,  as  a  mystical  rose,  or  as  the 
morning-star,  harbinger  of  the  Sun  of  grace :  the  brightest  an 
gels  wait  upon  her,  while  celestial  harps  and  voices  form  a 
ravishing  concert  around  her.  In  that  daughter  of  humanity  we 
behold  the  refuge  of  sinners,  the  comforter  of  the  afflicted,  who, 
all  good,  all  compassionate,  all  indulgent,  averts  from  us  the  anger 
of  the  Lord. 

Mary  is  the  refuge  of  innocence,  of  weakness,  and  of  misfor 
tune.  The  faithful  clients  that  crowd  our  churches  to  lay  their 
homage  at  her  feet  are  poor  mariners  who  have  escaped  ship 
wreck  under  her  protection,  aged  soldiers  whom  she  has  saved 
from  death  in  the  fierce  hour  of  battle,  young  women  whose 
bitter  griefs  she  has  assuaged.  The  mother  carries  her  babe  be 
fore  her  image,  and  this  little  one,  though  it  knows  not  as  yet 
the  God  of  Heaven,  already  knows  that  divine  mother  who  holds 
an  infant  in  her  arms. 


CHAPTER   VI. 

OP   THE    SACRAMENTS. 
Baptism. 

IP  the  mysteries  overwhelm  the  mind  by  their  greatness,  we 
experience  a  different  kind  of  astonishment,  but  perhaps  not  less 
profound,  when  we  contemplate  the  sacraments  of  the  Church. 
The  whole  knowledge  of  man,  in  his  civil  and  moral  relations,  is 
implied  in  these  institutions. 


(jg  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

Baptism  is  the  first  of  the  sacraments  which  religion  confers 
upon  man,  and,  in  the  language  of  the  apostle,  clothes  him  with 
Jesus  Christ.  This  sacred  rite  reminds  us  of  the  corruption  in 
which  we  were  born,  of  the  pangs  that  gave  us  birth,  of  the 
tribulations  which  await  us  in  this  world.  It  teaches  us  that  our 
sins  will  recoil  upon  our  children,  and  that  we  are  all  sureties  for 
eao>  other — an  awful  lesson,  which  alone  would  suffice,  if  duly 
pondered,  to  establish  the  empire  of  virtue  among  men. 

Behold  the  new  convert  standing  amid  the  waves  of  Jordan ! 
the  hermit  of  the  rock  pours  the  lustral  water  upon  his  head ; 
while  the  patriarchal  river,  the  camels  on  its  banks,  the  temple 
of  Jerusalem,  and  the  cedars  of  Libanus,  seem  to  be  arrested  by 
the  solemn  rite.  Or,  rather,  behold  the  infant  child  before  the 
sacred  font!  A  joyous  family  surround  him;  in  his  behalf  they 
renounce  sin,  and  give  him  the  name  of  his  grandfather,  which 
is  thus  renewed  by  love  from  generation  to  generation.  Already 
the  father  hastens  to  take  the  child  in  his  arms,  and  to  carry  it 
home  to  his  impatient  wife,  who  is  counting  under  her  curtains 
each  sound  of  the  baptismal  bell.  The  relatives  assemble;  tears 
of  tenderness  and  of  religion  bedew  every  eye;  the  new  name 
of  the  pretty  infant,  the  ancient  appellative  of  its  ancestor,  passes 
from  mouth  to  mouth;  and  every  one,  mingling  the  recollections 
of  the  past  with  present  joys,  discovers  the  fancied  resemblance 
of  the  good  old  man  in  the  child  that  revives  his  memory.  Such 
are  the  scenes  exhibited  by  the  sacrament  of  baptism;  but  Re 
ligion,  ever  moral  and  ever  serious,  even  when  the  most  cheerful 
smile  irradiates  her  countenance,  shows  us  also  the  son  of  a  king, 
in  his  purple  mantle,  renouncing  the  pomps  of  Satan  at  the  same 
font  where  the  poor  man's  child  appears  in  tatters,  to  abjure  those 
vanities  of  the  world  which  it  will  never  know.1 

We  find  in  St.  Ambrose  a  curious  description  of  the  manner 
in  which  the  sacrament  of  baptism  was  administered  in  the  first 
ages  of  the  Church.3  Holy  Saturday  was  the  day  appointed 
for  the  ceremony.  It  commenced  with  touching  the  nostrils  and 

1  That  is,  the  outward  pomp  of  this  world;  but  the  poor  as  well  as  the  rich 
must  renounce  all  inordinate  aspiration  after  the  vain  show  of  this  world.     T. 

2  Ambr.,  de  Myst.     Tertullian,  Origen,  St.  Jerome,  and  St.  Augustin,  speak 
less  in  detail  of  this  ceremony  than   St.  Ambrose.     The    triple  immersion  and 
the  touching  of  the  nostrils,  to  which  we  allude  here,  are  mentioned  in  the  six 
books  on  the  Sacraments  which  are  falsely  attributed  to  this  father. 


BAPTISM.  69 


opening  the  ears  of  the  catechumen,  t  -e  person  officiating  at  the 
same  time  pronouncing  the  word  epJiplieta,  which  signifies,  be 
opened.  He  was  then  conducted  into  the  holy  of  holies.  In 
the  presence  of  the  deacon,  the  priest,  and  the  bishop,  he  re 
nounced  the  works  of  the  devil.  He  turned  toward  the  west, 
the  image  of  darkness,  to  ahjure  the  world;  and  toward  the 
east,  the  emblem  of  light,  to  denote  his  alliance  with  Jesus 
Christ.  The  bishop  then  blessed  the  water,  which,  according  to 
St.  Ambrose,  indicated  all  the  mysteries  of  the  Scripture, — the 
Creation,  the  Deluge,  the  Passage  of  the  Red  Sea,  the  Cloud, 
the  Waters  of  Mara,  Naaman,  and  the  Pool  of  Bethsaida.  The 
water  having  been  consecrated  by  the  sign  of  the  cross,  the  cate 
chumen  was  immersed  in  it  three  times,  in  honor  of  the  Trinity, 
and  to  teach  him  that  three  things  bear  witness  in  baptism — water, 
blood,  and  the  Holy  Spirit.  On  leaving  the  holy  of  holies,  the 
bishop  anointed  the  head  of  the  regenerated  man,  to  signify  that 
he  was  now  consecrated  as  one  of  the  chosen  race  and  priestly 
nation  of  the  Lord.  His  feet  were  then  washed,  and  he  was 
dressed  in  white  garments,  as  a  type  of  innocence,  after  which 
he  received,  by  the  sacrament  of  confirmation,  the  spirit  of  di 
vine  fear,  of  wisdom  and  intelligence,  of  counsel  and  strength, 
of  knowledge  and  piety.  The  bishop  then  pronounced,  with  a 
loud  voice,  the  words  of  the  apostle,  "God  the  Father  hath 
marked  thee  with  his  seal.  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord  hath  confirmed 
thee,  and  .given  to  thy  heart  the  earnest  of  the  Holy  Ghost/' 
The  new  Christian  then  proceeded  to  the  altar  to  receive  the 
bread  of  angels,  saying,  "I  will  go  to  the  altar  of  the  Lord,  of 
God  who  rejoices  my  youth."  At  the  sight  of  the  altar,  covered 
with  vessels  of  gold  and  silver,  with  lights,  flowers,  and  silks,  the 
new  convert  exclaimed,  with  the  prophet,  "Thou  hast  spread  a 
table  for  me ;  it  is  the  Lord  who  feeds  me ;  I  shall  know  no  want, 
for  he  hath  placed  me  in  an  abundant  pasture."  The  ceremony 
concluded  with  the  celebration  of  the  mass.  How  august  must 
have  been  the  solemnity,  at  which  an  Ambrose  gave  to  the  inno 
cent  poor  that  place  at  the  table  of  the  Lord  which  he  refused  to 
a  guilty  emperor  I1 

1  Theodosius,  by  whose  command  great  numbers  of  the  inhabitants  of  Thes- 
galonica  were  put  to  death  for  an  insurrection.  For  this  sanguinary  deed,  St. 
Ambrose,  then  bishop  of  Mjlan,  refused  to  admit  him  into  the  Church  until  ha 


70  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

If  there  be  not,  in  this  first  act  of  the  life  of  a  Christian,  a  di 
vine  combination  of  theology  and  morality,  of  mystery  and  sim 
plicity,  never  will  there  be  in  religion  any  thing  divine. 

But,  considered  in  a  higher  relation,  and  as  a  type  of  the  mys 
tery  of  our  redemption,  baptism  is  a  bath  which  restores  to  the 
soul  its  primeval  vigor.  We  cannot  recall  to  mind  without  deep 
regret  the  beauty  of  those  ancient  times,  when  the  forests  were 
not  silent  enough,  nor  the  caverns  sufficiently  solitary,  for  the  be 
lievers  who  repaired  thither  to  meditate  on  the  mysteries  of  reli 
gion.  Those  primitive  Christians,  witnesses  of  the  renovation  of 
the  world,  were  occupied  with  thoughts  of  a  very  different  kind 
from  those  which  now  bend  us  down  to  the  earth, — us  Christians 
who  have  grown  old  in  years,  but  not  in  faith.  In  those  times,  wis 
dom  had  her  seat  amid  rocks  and  in  the  lion's  den,  and  kings 
went  forth  to  consult  the  anchorite  of  the  mountain.  Days  too 
soon  passed  away !  There  is  no  longer  a  St.  John  in  the  desert,  nor 
will  there  be  poured  out  again  upon  the  new  convert  those  waters 
of  the  Jordan  which  carried  off  all  his  stains  to  the  bosom  of 
the  ocean. 

Baptism  is  followed  by  confession;  and  the  Church,  with  a 
prudence  peculiar  to  her,  has  fixed  the  time  for  the  reception  of 
this  sacrament  at  the  age  when  a  person  becomes  capable  of  sin, 
which  is  that  of  seven  years. 

All  men,  not  excepting  philosophers  themselves,  whatever  may 
have  been  their  opinions  on  other  subjects,  have  considered  the 
sacrament  of  penance  as  one  of  the  strongest  barriers  against  vice, 
and  as  a  master-piece  of  wisdom.  "  How  many  restitutions  and 
reparations/'  says  Rousseau,  "does  not  confession  produce  among 
Catholics!"1  According  to  Voltaire,  "confession  is  a  most  excel 
lent  expedient,  a  bridle  to  guilt,  invented  in  the  remotest  anti 
quity  :  it  was  practised  at  the  celebration  of  all  the  ancient  mys 
teries.  We  have  imitated  and  sanctified  this  wise  custom,  which 
has  a  great  influence  in  prevailing  on  hearts  burning  with  resent 
ment  to  forgive  one  another."2 

had  performed  a  canonical  penance.  The  emperor  having  remonstrated,  and 
cited  the  example  of  King  David,  who  had  committed  murder  and  adultery, 
the  Saint  answered,  "As  you  have  imitated  him  in  his  crime,  imitate  him  in 
his  penance."  Upon  which  Theodosius  humbly  submitted.  T. 

1  JEmil.y  tome  iii.  p.  201,  note. 

*  Quest.  Encyclop.,  tome  iii.  p.  234,  under  the  head  Cure  de  Campagne,  sect.  ii. 


THE  HOLY  COMMUNION.  71 

Without  this  salutary  institution,  the  sinner  would  sink  into 
despair.  Into  what  bosom  could  he  unburden  his  heart  ?  Into 
that  of  a  friend  ?  Ah !  who  can  rely  upon  the  friendship  of  men  ? 
Will  he  make  the  desert  his  confidant?  The  desert  would  inces 
santly  reverberate  in  the  guilty  ear  the  sound  of  those  trumpets 
which  Nero  fancied  he  heard  around  the  tomb  of  his  mother.1 
When  nature  and  our  fellow-creatures  show  no  mercy,  how  de 
lightful  is  it  to  find  the  Almighty  ready  to  forgive!  To  the 
Christian  religion  alone  belongs  the  merit  of  having  made  two 
sisters  of  Innocence  and  Repentance. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

/ 

OP    THE    HOLY    COMMUNION. 

AT  the  age  of  twelve  years,  and  in  the  gay  season  of  spring, 
the  youth  is  admitted  for  the  first  time  to  a  union  with  his  God. 
After  having  wept  with  the  mountains  of  Sion  over  the  death  of 
the  world's  Redeemer,  after  having  commemorated  the  darkness 
which  covered  the  earth  on  that  tragic  occasion,  Christendom 
throws  aside  her  mourning;  the  bells  commence  their  merry 
peals,  the  images  of  the  saints  are  unveiled,  and  the  domes  of 
the  churches  re-echo  with  the  song  of  joy — with  the  ancient  alle 
luia  of  Abraham  and  of  Jacob.  Tender  virgins  clothed  in  white, 
and  boys  bedecked  with  foliage,  march  along  a  path  strewed  with 
the  first  flowers  of  the  year,  and  advance  toward  the  temple  of 
religion,  chanting  new  canticles,  and  followed  by  their  overjoyed 
parents.  Soon  the  heavenly  victim  descends  upon  the  altar  for 
the  refreshment  of  those  youthful  hearts.  The  bread  of  angels 
is  laid  upon  the  tongue  as  yet  unsullied  by  falsehood,  while  the 
priest  partakes,  under  the  species  of  wine,  of  the  blood  of  the  im 
maculate  Lamb. 

In  this  solemn  ceremony,  God  perpetuates  the  memory  of  a, 
bloody  sacrifice  by  the  most  peaceful  symbols.  With  the  immea 
surable  heights  of  these  mysteries  are  blended  the  recollection 

1  Tacit.,  Hist. 


72  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


of  the  most  pleasing  scenes.  Nature  seems  to  revive  with  her 
Creator,  and  the  angel  of  spring  opens  for  her  the  doors  of  the 
tomb,  like  the  spirit  of  light  who  rolled  away  the  stone  from  the 
glorious  sepulchre.  The  age  of  the  tender  communicants  and 
that  of  the  infant  year  mingle  their  youth,  their  harmonies,  and 
their  innocence.  The  bread  and  wine  announce  the  approaching 
maturity  of  the  products  of  the  fields,  and  bring  before  us  a  pic 
ture  of  agricultural  life.  In  fine,  God  descends  into  the  souls  of 
these  young  believers  to  bring  forth  his  chosen  fruits,  as  he  de 
scends  at  this  season  into  the  bosom  of  the  earth  to  make  it  pro 
duce  its  flowers  and  its  riches. 

But,  you  will  ask,  what  signifies  that  mystic  communion,  in 
which  reason  submits  to  an  absurdity,  without  any  advantage  to 
the  moral  man  ?  To  this  objection  I  will  first  give  a  general  an 
swer,  which  will  apply  to  all  Christian  rites :  that  they  exert  the 
highest  moral  influence,  because  they  were  practised  by  our 
fathers,  because  our  mothers  were  Christians  over  our  cradle,  and 
because  the  chants  of  religion  were  heard  around  the  coffins  of 
our  ancestors  and  breathed  a  prayer  of  peace  over  their  ashes. 

Supposing,  however,  that  the  Holy  Communion  were  but  a 
puerile  ceremony,  those  persons  must  be  extremely  blind  who  can 
not  perceive  that  a  solemnity,  which  must  be  preceded  by  a  con 
fession  of  one's  whole  life,  and  can  take  place  only  after  a  long 
series  of  virtuous  actions,  is,  from  its  nature,  highly  favorable  to 
morality.  It  is  so  to  such  a  degree,  that,  were  a  man  to  partake 
worthily  but  once  a  month  of  the  sacrament  of  the  Eucharist,  that 
man  must  of  necessity  be  the  most  virtuous  person  upon  earth 
Transfer  this  reasoning  from  the  individual  to  society  in  general, 
from  one  person  to  a  whole  nation,  and  you  will  find  that  the  Holy 
Communion  constitutes  a  complete  system  of  legislation. 

"Here  then  are  people,"  says  Voltaire,  an  authority  which  will 
not  be  suspected,  "who  partake  of  the  communion  amid  an 
august  ceremony,  by  the  light  of  a  hundred  tapers,  after  solemn 
music  which  has  enchanted  their  senses,  at  the  foot  of  an  altur 
resplendent  with  gold.  The  imagination  is  subdued  and  the 
soul  powerfully  affected.  We  scarcely  breathe;  we  forget  all 
earthly  considerations :  we  are  united  with  God  and  he  is  incor 
porated  with  us.  Who  durst,  who  could,  after  this,  be  guilty  of 
a  single  crime,  or  only  conceive  the  idea  of  one?  It  would 


THE   HOLY  COMMUNION.  73 


indeed  be  impossible  to  devise  &  mystery  capable  of  keeping  men 
more  effectually  within  the  bounds  of  virtue."1 

The  Eucharist  was  instituted  at  the  last  supper  of  Christ  with 
his  disciples;  and  we  call  to  our  aid  the  pencil  of  the  artist, to 
express  the  beauty  of  the  picture  in  which  he  is  represented  pro 
nouncing  the  words,  This  is  my  Itody.  Four  things  here  require 
attention. 

First,  In  the  material  bread  and  wine  we  behold  the  conse 
cration  of  the  food  of  man,  which  comes  from  God,  and  which 
we  receive  from  his  bounty.  Were  there  nothing  more  in  the 
Communion  than  this  offering  of  the  productions  of  the  earth  to 
him  who  dispenses  them,  that  alone  would  qualify  it  to  be  com 
pared  with  the  most  excellent  religious  customs  of  Greece. 

Secondly,  The  Eucharist  reminds  us  of  the  Passover  of  the  Is 
raelites,  which  carries  us  back  to  the  time  of  the  Pharaohs;  it 
announces  the  abolition  of  bloody  sacrifices;  it  represents  also  the 
calling  of  Abraham,  and  the  first  covenant  between  God  and  man. 
Every  thing  grand  in  antiquity,  in  history,  in  legislation,  in  the 
sacred  types,  is  therefore  comprised  in  the  communion  of  the 
Christian. 

Thirdly,  The  Eucharist  announces  the  reunion  of  mankind 
into  one  great  family.  It  inculcates  the  cessation  of  enmities, 
natural  equality,  and  the  commencement  of  a  new  law,  which 
will  make  no  distinction  of  Jew  or  Gentile,  but  invites  all  the 
children  of  Adam  to  sit  down  at  the  same  table. 

Fourthly,  The  great  wonder  of  the  Holy  Eucharist  is  the  real 
presence  of  Christ  under  the  consecrated  species.  Here  the  soul 
must  transport  itself  for  a  moment  to  that  intellectual  world 
which  was  open  to  man  before  the  fall. 

When  the  Almighty  had  created  him  to  his  likeness,  and  ani 
mated  him  with  the  breath  of  life,  he  made  a  covenant  with  him. 
Adam  and  his  Creator  conversed  together  in  the  solitude  of  the 
garden.  The  covenant  was  necessarily  broken  by  the  disobedi 
ence  of  the  father  of  men.  The  Almighty  could  no  longer  com 
municate  with  death,  or  spirituality  with  matter.  Now,  be 
tween  two  things  of  different  properties  there  cannot  be  a  point 


1  Questions  sur  VEncy^.opedie^  tome  iv.     Were  we  to   express   ourselves  as 
>rcibly  as  Voltaire  here  does,  we  would  be  looked  upon  as  a  fanatic. 


74  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

of  contact  except  by  means  of  something  intermediate.  The  firsl 
effort  which  divine  love  made  to  draw  us  nearer  to  itself,  was  in 
the  calling  of  Abraham  and  the  institution  of  sacrifices — types 
announcing  to  the  world  the  coming  of  the  Messiah.  The  Sa 
viour,  when  he  restored  us  to  the  ends  of  our  creation,  as  we 
have  observed  on  the  subject  of  the  redemption,  reinstated  us  in 
our  privileges,  and  the  highest  of  those  privileges  undoubtedly 
was  to  communicate  with  our  Maker.  But  this  communication 
could  no  longer  take  place  immediately,  as  in  the  terrestrial  para 
dise:  in  the  first  place,  because  our  origin  remained  polluted; 
and  in  the  second,  because  the  body,  now  an  heir  of  death,  is  too 
weak  to  survive  a  direct  communication  with  God.  A  medium 
was  therefore  required,  and  this  medium  the  Son  has  furnished. 
He  hath  given  himself  to  man  in  the  Eucharist;  he  hath  become 
the  sublime  way  by  which  we  are  again  united  with  Iliui  from 
whom  our  souls  have  emanated. 

But  if  the  Son  had  remained  in  his  primitive  essence,  it  is  evi 
dent  that  the  same  separation  would  have  continued  to  exist  here 
below  between  God  and  man;  since  there  can  be  no  union  be 
tween  purity  and  guilt,  between  an  eternal  reality  and  the  dream 
of  human  life.  But  the  Word  condescended  to  assume  our  na 
ture  and  to  become  like  us.  On  the  one  hand  he  is  united  to 
his  Father  by  his  spirituality,  and  on  the  other,  to  our  flesh  by 
his  humanity.  He  is  therefore  the  required  medium  of  approxi 
mation  between  the  guilty  child  and  the  compassionate  Father. 
Represented  by  the  symbol  of  bread,  he  is  a  sensible  object  to  the 
corporeal  eye,  while  he  continues  an  intellectual  object  to  the  eye 
of  the  soul;  and  if  he  has  chosen  bread  for  this  purpose,  it  is  be 
cause  the  material  which  composes  it  is  a  noble  and  pure  emblem 
of  the  divine  nourishment. 

If  this  sublime  and  mysterious  theology,  a  few  outlines  only 
of  which  we  are  attempting  to  trace,  should  displease  any  of  our 
readers,  let  them  but  remark  how  luminous  are  our  metaphysics 
when  compared  with  the  system  of  Pythagoras,  Plato,  Timoeus, 
Aristotle,  and  Epicurus.  Here  they  meet  with  none  of  those 
abstract  ideas  for  which  it  is  necessary  to  create  a  language  unin 
telligible  to  the  mass  of  mankind. 

To  sum  up  what  we  have  said  on  this  subject,  we  see,  in  the 
first  place,  that  the  Holy  Communion  displays  a  beautiful  ceieino- 


CELIBACY  UNDER   ITS   MORAL   ASPECT.  75 

trial ;  that  it  inculcates  morality,  because  purity  of  heart  is  essen 
tial  in  those  who  partake  of  it ;  that  it  is  an  offering  of  the  pro 
duce  of  the  earth  to  the  Creator,  and  that  it  commemorates  the 
sublime  and  affecting  history  of  the  Sou  of  man.  Combined 
with  the  recollection  of  the  Passover  and  of  the  first  covenant,  it 
is  lost  in  the  remoteness  of  time ;  it  reproduces  the  earliest  ideas 
of  man,  in  his  religious  and  political  character,  and  denotes  the 
original  equality  of  the  human  race.  Finally,  it  comprises  the 
mystical  history  of  the  family  of  Adam,  their  fall,  their  restora 
tion,  and  their  reunion  with  God. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

CONFIRMATION,  HOLY    ORDERS,  AND    MATRIMONY. 

Celibacy  considered  under  its  Moral  Aspect. 

IN  considering  the  period  of  life  which  religion  has  fixed  for 
the  nuptials  of  man  and  his  Creator,  we  find  a  subject  of  per 
petual  wonder.  At  the  time  when  the  fire  of  the  passions  is 
about  to  be  kindled  in  the  heart,  and  the  mind  is  sufficiently 
capable  of  knowing  God,  he  becomes  the  ruling  spirit  of  the 
youth,  pervading  all  the  faculties  of  his  soul  in  its  now  restless 
and  expanded  state.  But  dangers  multiply  as  he  advances ;  a 
stranger  cast  without  experience  upon  the  perilous  ways  of  the 
world,  he  has  need  of  additional  helps.  At  this  crisis  religion  does 
not  forget  her  child:  she  has  her  reinforcements  in  reserve. 
Confirmation  will  support  his  trembling  steps,  like  the  staff  in  the 
hands  of  the  traveller,  or  like  those  sceptres  which  passed  from 
race  to  race  among  the  royal  families  of  antiquity,  and  on  which 
Evander  and  Nestor,  pastors  of  men,  reclined  while  judging  their 
people.  Let  it  be  observed  that  all  the  morality  of  life  is  implied 
in  the  sacrament  of  Confirmation;  because  whoever  has  the 
courage  to  confess  God  will  necessarily  practise  virtue,  as  the 
commission  of  crime  is  nothing  but  the  denial  of  the  Creator. 


76  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


The  same  wise  spirit  has  been  displayed  in  placing  the  sacra 
ments  of  Holy  Orders  and  Matrimony  immediately  after  that  of 
Confirmation.  The  child  has  now  become  a  man,  and  religion, 
that  watched  over  him  with  tender  solicitude  in  the  state  of  na 
ture,  will  not  abandon  him  in  the  social  sphere.  How  profound 
are  the  views'  of  the  Christian  legislator!  He  has  established 
only  two  social  sacraments,  if  we  may  be  allowed  this  expression, 
because,  in  reality,  there  are  but  two  states  in  life — celibacy  and 
marriage.  Thus,  without  regard  to  the  civil  distinctions  invented 
by  our  short-sighted  reason,  Jesus  Christ  divided  society  into  two 
classes,  and  decreed  for  them,  not  political,  but  moral  laws,  acting 
in  this  respect  in  accordance  with  all  antiquity.  The  old  sages 
of  the  East,  who  have-  acquired  such  a  wide-spread  fame,  did  not 
call  men  together  at  random  to  hatch  Utopian  constitutions.  They 
were  venerable  solitaries,  who  had  travelled  much,  and  who  cele 
brated  with  the  lyre  the  remembrance  of  the  gods.  Laden  with 
the  rich  treasure  of  information  derived  from  their  intercourse 
with  foreign  nations,  and  still  richer  by  the  virtues  which  they 
practised,  those  excellent  men  appeared  before  the  multitude 
with  the  lute  in  hand,  their  hoary  locks  encircled  with  a  golden 
crown,  and,  seating  themselves  under  the  shade  of  the  plane- 
tree,  they  delivered  their  lessons  to  an  enchanted  crowd.  What 
were  the  institutions  of  an  Amphion,  a  Cadmus,  an  Orpheus  ? 
They  consisted  in  delightful  music  called  Idio,  in  the  dance,  the 
hymn,  the  consecrated  tree ;  they  were  exhibited  in  youth  under 
the  guidance  of  old  age,  in  matrimonial  faith  plighted  near  a 
grave.  Religion  and  God  were  everywhere.  Such  are  the  scenes 
which  Christianity  also  exhibits,  but  with  much  stronger  claims 
to  our  admiration. 

Principles,   however,   are   always  a  subject   of   disagreement 
among  men,  and  the  wisest  institutions  have  met  with  opposition. 
Thus,  in  modern  times,  the  vow  of  celibacy  which  accompanies 
the  reception  of  Holy  Orders  has  been  denounced  in  *no  mea 
sured  terms.      Some,  availing  themselves  of  every  means  of  as 
sailing  religion,  have  imagined  that  they  placed  her  in  opposition 
to  herself  by  contrasting  her  present  discipline  with  the  ancient 
practice  of  the  Church,  which,  according  to  them,  permitted  the 
marriage  of  the  clergy.     Others  have  been  content  with  making 
the  chastity  of  the  priesthood  the  object  of  their  raillery.     Let 


CELIBACY   UNDER   ITS   MORAL   ASPECT.  77 


us  examine,  first,  the  views  of  those  who  have  assailed  it  with 
seriousness  and  on  the  ground  of  morality. 

By  the  seventh  canon  of  the  second  Council  of  Lateran,1  held 
in  1139,  the  celibacy  of  the  clergy  was  definitely  established,  in 
accordance  with  the  regulations  of  previous  synods,  as  those  of 
Lateran  in  1123,  Trosle  in  909,  Tribur  in  895,  Toledo  in  633,  and 
Chalcedon  in  451. 2  Baronius  shows  that  clerical  celibacy  was  in 
force  generally  from  the  sixth  century.3  The  first  Council  of 
Tours  excommunicated  any  priest,  deacon,  or  sub-deacon,  who 
returned  to  his  wife  after  the  reception  of  Holy  Orders.  From 
the  time  of  St.  Paul,  virginity  was  considered  the  more  perfect 
state  for  a  Christian. 

But,  were  we  to  admit  that  marriage  was  allowed  among  the 
clergy  in  the  early  ages  of  the  Church,  which  cannot  be  shown 
either  from  history  or  from  ecclesiastical  legislation,  it  would  not 
follow  that  it  would  be  expedient  at  the  present  day.  Such  an 
innovation  would  be  at  variance  with  the  manners  of  our  times, 
and,  moreover,  would  lead  to  the  total  subversion  of  ecclesiastical 
discipline. 

In  the  primitive  days  of  religion,  a  period  of  combats  and 
triumphs,  the  followers  of  Christianity,  comparatively  few  in 
number  and  adorned  with  every  virtue,  lived  fraternally  together, 
and  shared  the  same  joys  and  the  same  tribulations  at  the  table 
of  the  Lord.  We  may  conceive,  therefore,  that  a  minister  of 
religion  might,  strictly  speaking,  have  been  permitted  to  have  a 
family  amid  this  perfect  society,  which  was  already  the  domestic 
circle  for  him.  His  own  children,  forming  a  part  of  his  flock, 
would  not  have  diverted  him  from  the  attentions  due  to  the  re 
mainder  of  his  charge,  nor  would  they  have  exposed  him  to  betray 
the  confidence  of  the  sinner,  since  in  those  days  there  were  no 
crimes  to  be  concealed,  the  confession  of  them  being  made  pub 
licly  in  those  basilics  of  the  dead  where  the  faithful  assembled 
to  pray  over  the  ashes  of  the  martyrs.  The  Christians  of  that 
age  had  received  from  heaven  a  spirit  which  we  have  lost.  They 

1  This  was  the  tenth  general  council,  at  which  one  thousand  bishops  were 
present.     T. 

2  The   fourth   general   council,  numbering   between   five   and   six  hundred 
bishops.     T. 

3  Baron.,  An.  88,  No.  18. 

7* 


78  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

formed  not  so  much  a  popular  assembly  as  a  community  of  Levites 
and  religious  women.  Baptism  had  made  them  all  priests  and 
confessors  of  Jesus  Christ. 

St.  Justin  the  philosopher,  in  his  first  Apology,  has  given  ua 
an  admirable  description  of  the  Christian  life  in  those  times. 
»« We  are  accused,"  he  says,  "  of  disturbing  the  tranquillity  of  the 
state,  while  we  are  taught  by  one  of  the  principal  articles  of  our 
faith  that  nothing  is  hidden  to  the  eye  of  God,  and  that  he  will 
one  day  take  a  strict  account  of  our  good  and  evil  deeds.  But, 
0  powerful  Emperor,  the  very  punishments  which  you  have  de 
creed  against  us  only  tend  to  confirm  us  in  our  religion,  because 
all  this  persecution  was  predicted  by  our  Master,  the  son  of  the 
sovereign  God,  Father  and  Lord  of  the  universe. 

"  On  Sunday,  those  who  reside  in  the  town  and  country  meet 
together.  The  Scriptures  are  read,  after  which  one  of  the  an 
cients1  exhorts  the  people  to  imitate  the  beautiful  examples  that 
have  been  placed  before  them.  The  assembly  then  rises;  prayer 
is  again  offered  up,  and  water,  bread,  and  wine  being  presented, 
the  officiating  minister  gives  thanks,  the  others  answering  Amen. 
A  portion  of  the  consecrated  elements  is  now  distributed,  and  the 
rest  is  conveyed  by  the  deacons  to  those  who  are  absent.  A  col 
lection  is  taken ;  the  rich  giving  according  to  their  disposition. 
These  alms  are  placed  in  the  hands  of  the  minister,  for  the  as 
sistance  of  widows,  orphans,  sick  persons,  prisoners,  poor  people, 
strangers ;  in  short,  all  who  are  in  need,  and  the  care  of  whom 
devolves  especially  upon  the  minister.  We  assemble  on  Sunday, 
because  on  that  day  God  created  the  world,  and  the  same  day  his 
Son  arose  to  life  again,  to  confirm  his  disciples  in  the  doctrine 
which  we  have  exposed  to  you. 

"  If  you  find  this  doctrine  good,  show  your  respect  for  it;  if 
not,  reject  it.  But  do  not  condemn  to  punishment  those  who 
commit  no  crime ;  for  we  declare  to  you  that,  if  you  continue  to 
act  unjustly,  you  will  not  escape  the  judgment  of  God.  For  the 
rest,  whatever  be  our  faith,  we  desire  only  that  the  will  of  God 
be  done.  We  might  have  claimed  your  favorable  regard  in  con- 

1  That  is,  a  priest.  In  the  first  ages,  the  word  npcffQvrepos  or  ancient  was  very 
frequently  used  to  signify  a  bishop  or  priest,  set  apart  by  ordination  for  the 
ministry  of  the  Church :  it  was  afterwards  employed  solely  to  designate  the 
priestly  order.  T. 


CELIBACY   UNDER   ITS   MORAL   ASPECT.  79 


sequence  of  the  letter  of  your  father,  Caesar  Adrian,  of  illustrious 
and  glorious  memory;  but  we  have  preferred  to  rely  solely  upon 
the  justice  of  our  cause."  ' 

The  Apology  of  Justin  was  well  calculated  to  take  the  world 
by  surprise ;  for  it  proclaimed  a  golden  age  in  the  midst  of  a  cor 
rupt  generation,  and  pointed  out  a  new  people  in  the  catacombs 
of  an  ancient  empire.  The  Christian  life  must  have  appeared 
the  more  admirable  in  the  public  eye,  as  such  perfection  had 
never  before  been  known,  harmonizing  with  nature  and  the  laws, 
and  on  the  other  band  forming  a  remarkable  contrast  with  the 
rest  of  society.  It  is  also  invested  with  an  interest  which  is  not 
to  be  found  in  the  fabulous  excellence  of  antiquity,  because  the 
latter  is  always  depicted  in  a  state  of  happiness,  while  the  former 
presents  itself  through  the  charms  of  adversity.  It  is  not  amid 
the  foliage  of  the  woods  or  at  the  side  of  the  fountain  that  virtue 
exerts  her  greatest  power,  but  under  the  shade  of  the  prison-wall 
or  amid  rivers  of  blood  and  tears.  How  divine  does  religion 
appear  to  us  when,  in  the  recess  of  the  catacomb  or  in  the  silent 
darkness  of  the  tomb,  we  behold  a  pastor  who  is  surrounded  by 
danger,  celebrating,  by  the  feeble  glare  of  his  lamp  and  in  pre 
sence  of  his  little  flock,  the  mysteries  of  a  persecuted  Grod  ! 

We  have  deemed  it  necessary  to  establish  incontestably  this 
high  moral  character  of  the  first  Christians,  in  order  to  show  that, 
if  the  marriage  of  the  clergy  was  considered  unbecoming  in  that 
age  of  purity,  it  would  be  altogether  impossible  to  introduce  it  at 
the  present  day.  When  the  number  of  Christians  increased,  and 
morality  was  weakened  with  the  diffusion  of  mankind,  how  could 
the  priest  devote  himself  at  the  same  time  to  his  family  and  to 
the  Church  ?  How  could  he  have  continued  chaste  with  a  spouse 
who  had  ceased  to  be  so?  If  our  opponents  object  the  prac 
tice  of  Protestant  countries,  we  will  observe  that  it  has  been  ne 
cessary  in  those  countries  to  abolish  a  great  portion  of  the  external 
worship  of  religion ;  that  a  Protestant  minister  appears  in  the 
church  scarcely  two  or  three  times  a  week ;  that  almost  all  spi 
ritual  relations  have  ceased  between  him  and  his  flock,  and  that 
very  often  he  is  a  mere  man  of  the  world.3  As  to  certain  Puri- 

1  Justin,  Apoloy.,  edit.  Marc.,  fol.  1742.     See  note  B. 

8  "It  was  no  trivial  misfortune,"  says  Dr.  King,  "for  the  cause  of  Christianity 
in  England,  that  at  the  period  of  our  separation  from  popery  the  clergy  were 


80  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


tanical  sects  that  affect  an  evangelical  simplicity,  and  wish  to  have 
a  religion  without  a  worship,  we  hope  that  they  will  be  passed 
over  in  silence.  Finally,  in  those  countries  where  the  marriage 
of  the  clergy  is  allowed,  the  confession  of  sin,  which  is  the  most 
admirable  of  moral  institutions,  has  been,  and  must  necessarily 
have  been,  discontinued.  It  cannot  be  supposed  that  the  Chris 
tian  would  confide  the  secrets  of  his  heart  to  a  man  who  has 
already  made  a  woman  the  depositary  of  his  own ;  and  he  would, 
with  reason,  fear  to  make  a  confidant  of  him  who  has  proved 
faithless  to  God,  and  has  repudiated  the  Creator  to  espouse  the 
creature. 

We  will  now  answer  the  objection  drawn  from  the  general  law 
of  population.  It  seems  to  us  that  one  of  the  first  natural  laws 
that  required  abrogation  at  the  commencement  of  the  Christian 
era,  was  that  which  encouraged  population  beyond  a  certain  limit. 
The  age  of  Jesus  Christ  was  not  that  of  Abraham.  The  latter 
appeared  at  a  time  when  innocence  prevailed  and  the  earth  was 
but  sparsely  inhabited.  Jesus  Christ,  on  the  contrary,  came  into 
the  midst  of  a  world  that  was  corrupt  and  thickly  settled.  Con 
tinence,  therefore,  may  be  allowed  to  woman.  The  second  Eve, 
in  curing  the  evils  that  had  fallen  upon  the  first,  has  brought 
down  virginity  from  heaven,  to  give  us  an  idea  of  the  purity  and 
joy  which  preceded  the  primeval  pangs  of  maternity. 

The  Legislator  of  the  Christian  world  was  born  of  a  virgin, 
and  died  a  virgin.  Did  he  not  wish  thereby  to  teach  us,  in  a 
political  and  natural  point  of  view,  that  the  earth  had  received 
its  complement  of  inhabitants,  and  that  the  ratio  of  generation, 

allowed  to  marry;  for,  as  might  have  been  foreseen,  our  ecclesiastics  since  that 
time  have  occupied  themselves  solely  with  their  wives  and  their  children.  The 
dignitaries  of  the  Church  could  easily  provide  for  their  families  with  the  aid  of 
their  large  revenues ;  but  the  inferior  clergy,  unable  with  their  slender  incomes 
to  establish  their  children  in  the  world,  soon  spread  over  the  kingdom  swarms 

of  mendicants As  a  member  of  the  republic  of  letters,  I  have  often 

desired  the  re-enactment  of  the  canons  that  prohibited  marriage  among  the 
clergy.  To  episcopal  celibacy  we  are  indebted  for  all  the  magnificent  grants 
that  distinguish  our  two  universities :  but  since  the  period  of  the  Reformation 
those  two  seats  of  learning  have  had  few  benefactors  among  the  members  of  the 
hierarchy.  If  the  rich  donations  of  Laud  and  Sheldon  have  an  eternal  claim 
to  our  gratitude,  it  must  be  remembered  that  these  two  prelates  wore  never 
married,"  <fcc. — Political  and  Literary  Anecdotes,  Ac.,  Edinburgh  Review,  July, 
1819.  T. 


CELIBACY    UNDER    ITS   MORAL  ASPECT.  81 

far  from  being  extended,  should  be  restricted  ?  In  support  of 
this  opinion,  we  may  remark  that  states  never  perish  from  a  want, 
but  from  an  excess,  of  population,  The  barbarians  of  the  North 
spread  devastation  over  the  globe  when  their  forests  became 
overcrowded ;  and  Switzerland  has  been  compelled  to  transfer  a 
portion  of  her  industrious  inhabitants  to  other  countries,  as  she 
pours  forth  her  abundant  streams  to  render  them  productive. 
Though  the  number  of  laborers  has  been  greatly  diminished  in 
France,  the  cultivation  of  the  soil  was  never  more  flourishing 
than  at  the  present  time.  Alas !  we  resemble  a  swarm  of  insects 
buzzing  around  a  cup  of  wormwood  into  which  a  few  drops  of 
honey  have  accidentally  fallen ;  we  devour  each  other  as  soon  as 
our  numbers  begin  to  crowd  the  spot  that  we  occupy !  By  a  still 
greater  misfortune,  the  more  we  increase,  the  more  land  we  re 
quire  to  satisfy  our  wants ;  and  as  this  space  is  always  diminish 
ing,  while  the  passions  are  extending  their  sway,  the  most  fright 
ful  revolutions  must,  sooner  or  later,  be  the  consequence.1 

Theories,  however,  have  little  weight  in  the  presence  of  facts. 
Europe  is  far  from  being  a  desert,  though  the  Catholic  clergy 
within  her  borders  have  taken  the  vow  of  celibacy.  Even  mo 
nasteries  are  favorable  to  society,  by  the  good  management  of  the 
religious,  who  distribute  their  commodities  at  home,  and  thus 
afford  abundant  relief  to  the  poor.  Where  but  in  the  neighbor 
hood  of  some  rich  abbey,  did  we  once  behold  in  Fiance  the  com 
fortably  dressed  husbandman,  and  laboring  people  whose  joyful 
countenances  betokened  their  happy  condition  ?  Large  possessions 
always  produce  this  effect  in  the  hands  of  wise  and  resident 
proprietors;  and  such  precisely  was  the  character  of  our  monastic 
domains.  But  this  subject  would  lead  us  too  far.  We  shall  return 
to  it  in  treating  of  the  religious  orders.  We  will  remark,  how 
ever,  that  the  clergy  have  been  favorable  to  the  increase  of  popu 
lation,  by  preaching  concord  and  union  between  man  and  wife, 
checking  the  progress  of  libertinism,  and  visiting  with  the  de 
nunciations  of  the  Church  the  crimes  which  the  people  of  the 
cities  directed  to  the  diminution  of  children. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  every  great  nation  has  need  of 
men  who,  separated  from  the  rest  of  mankind,  invested  with  some 

1  Note  C. 


82  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


august  character,  and  free  from  the  encumbrances  of  wife,  children, 
and  other  worldly  affairs,  may  labor  effectually  for  the  advance 
ment  of  knowledge,  the  improvement  of  morals,  and  the  relief 
of  human  suffering.  What  wonders  have  not  our  priests  and 
religious  accomplished  in  these  three  respects  for  the  good  of 
society  ?  But  place  them  in  charge  of  a  family :  would  not  the 
learning  and  charity  which  they  have  consecrated  to  their  country 
be  turned  to  the  profit  of  their  relatives  ?  Happy,  indeed,  if  by 
this  change  their  virtue  were  not  transformed  into  vice ! 

Having  disposed  of  the  objections  which  moralists  urge  against 
clerical  celibacy,  we  shall  endeavor  to  answer  'those  of  the  poets ; 
but  for  this  purpose  it  will  be  necessary  to  employ  other  argu 
ments,  to  adduce  other  authorities,  and  to  write  in  a  different 
style. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

THE    SAME    SUBJECT    CONTINUED HOLY   ORDERS. 

MOST  of  the  sages  of  antiquity  led  a  life  of  celibacy ;  and  the 
Grymnosophists,  the  Brahmins,  and  the  Druids,  held  chastity  in 
the  highest  ^onor.  Even  among  savage  tribes  it  is  invested 
with  a  heavenly  character;  because  in  all  ages  and  countries  there 
has  prevailed  but  one  opinion  respecting  the  excellence  of  vir 
ginity.  Among  the  ancients,  priests  and  priestesses,  who  were 
supposed  to  commune  intimately  with  heaven,  were  obliged  to 
live  as  solitaries,  and  the  least  violation  of  their  vows  was  visited 
with  a  signal  punishment.  They  offered  in  sacrifice  only  the 
heifer  that  had  never  been  a  mother.  The  loftiest  and  most 
attractive  characters  in  mythology  were  virgins.  Such  were 
Venus,  Urania,  and  Minerva,  goddesses  of  genius  and  wisdom, 
and  Friendship,  who  was  represented  as  a  young  maiden.  Vir 
ginity  herself  was  personified  as  the  moon,  and  paraded  her  mys 
terious  modesty  amid  the  refreshing  atmosphere  of  night. 

Virginity  is  not  less  amiable,  considered  in  its  various  other 
relations.  In  the  three  departments  of  nature,  it  is  the  source 
of  grace  and  the  perfection  of  beauty.  The  poets  whom  we  are 


HOLY   ORDERS.  83 


now  seeking  to  convince  will  readily  admit  what  we  say.  Do  they 
not  themselves  introduce  everywhere  the  idea  of  virginity,  as 
lending  a  charm  to  their  descriptions  and  representations  ?  Do 
they  not  find  it  in  the  forest-scene,  in  the  vernal  rose,  in  the 
winter's  snow  ?  and  do  they  not  thus  station  it  at  the  two  extre 
mities  of  life — on  the  lips  of  childhood  and  the  gray  locks  of 
aged  man  ?  •  Do  they  not  also  blend  it  with  the  mysteries  of  the 
tomb,  telling  us  of  antiquity  that  consecrated  to  the  manes  seed 
less  trees,  because  death  is  barren,  or  because  in  the  next  life 
there  is  no  distinction  of  sex,  and  the  soul  is  an  immortal  virgin  ? 
Finally,  do  they  not  tell  us  that  the  irrational  animals  which  ap 
proach  the  nearest  to  human  intelligence  are  those  devoted  to 
chastity?  Do  we  not  seem,  in  fact,  to  recognise  in  the  bee-hive 
the  model  of  those  monasteries,  where  vestals  are  busily  engaged 
in  extracting  a  celestial  honey  from  the  flowers  of  virtue  ? 

In  the  fine  arts,  virginity  is  again  the  charm,  and  the  Muses 
owe  to  it  their  perpetual  youth.  But  it  displays  its  excellence 
chiefly  in  man.  St.  Ambrose  has  composed  three  treatises  on 
virginity,  in  which  he  has  scattered  with  a  profuse  hand  the 
ornaments  of  style, — his  object,  as  he  informs  us,  being  to  gain 
the  attention  of  virgins  by  the  sweetness  of  his  words.1  He 
terms  virginity  an  exemption  from  every  stain,  and  shows  that 
the  tranquillity  which  attends  it  is  far  superior  to  the  cares  of 
matrimonial  life.  He  addresses  the  virgin  in  these  words  :  "The 
modesty  which  tinges  your  cheeks  renders  you  exceedingly  beau 
tiful.  Retired  far  from  the  sight  of  men,  like  the  rose  in  some 
solitary  spot,  your  charms  form  not  the  subject  of  their  false 
surmises.  Nevertheless,  you  are  still  a  competitor  for  the  prize 
of  beauty;  not  that  indeed  which  falls  under  the  eye,  but  the 
beauty  of  virtue— that  beauty  which  no  sickness  can  disfigure, 
no  age  can  diminish,  and  not  death  itself  can  take  away.  God 
alone  is  the  umpire  in  this  rivalry  of  virgins,  because  he  loves 

the  beautiful  soul,  even  in  a  body  that  is  deformed 

A  virgin  is  the  gift  of  heaven  and  the  joy  of  her  family.  She 
exercises  under  the  paternal  roof  the  priesthood  of  chastity;  she 
is  a  victim  daily  immolated  for  her  mother  at  the  altar  of  filial 
piety."3 

•  De  Virgin.,  lib.  ii.  ch.  1.  2  ibid.,  lib.  i.  ch.  5. 


84  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


In  man,  virginity  assumes  the  character  of  sublimity.  When, 
in  the  fierce  rebellion  of  the  passions,  it  resists  the  invitation  to 
evil,  it  becomes  a  celestial  virtue.  "A  chaste  heart/'  says  St. 
Bernard,  "  is  by  virtue  what  an  angel  is  by  nature.  There  is 
more  felicity  in  the  purity  of  the  angel,  but  there  is  more  courage 
in  that  of  the  man."  In  the  religious,  virginity  transforms  itself 
into  humanity :  witness  the  fathers  of  the  Redemption  and  the 
orders  of  Hospitallers,  consecrated  to  the  relief  of  human  misery 
The  learned  man  it  inspires  with  the  love  of  study;  the  hermit 
with  that  of  contemplation  :  in  all  it  is  a  powerful  principle, 
whose  beneficial  influence  is  always  felt  in  the  labors  of  the  mind, 
and  hence  it  is  the  most  excellent  quality  of  life,  since  it  imparts 
fresh  vigor  to  the  soul,  which  is  the  nobler  part  of  our  nature. 

But  if  chastity  is  necessary  in  any  state,  it  is  chiefly  so  in  the 
service  of  the  divinity.  "God,"  as  Plato  observes,  "is  the  true 
standard  of  things,  and  we  should  make  every  effort  to  resemble 
him."  He  who  ministers  at  his  altar  is  more  strictly  obliged  to 
this'than  others.  "The  question  here,"  says  St.  Chrysostom,  "is 
not  the  government  of  an  empire  or  the  command  of  an  army, 
but  the  performance  of  functions  that  require  an  angelic  virtue , 
The  soul  of  the  priest  should  be  purer  than  the  rays  of  the  sun." 
"The  Christian  minister,"  adds  St.  Jerome,  "is  the  interpreter 
between  God  and  man."  The  priest,  therefore,  must  be  a  divine 
personage.  An  air  of  holiness  and  mystery  should  surround  him. 
Retired  within  the  sacred  gloom  of  the  temple,  let  him  be  heard 
without  being  perceived  by  those  without.  Let  his  voice,  solemn, 
grave,  and  religious,  announce  the  prophetic  word  or  chant  the 
hymn  of  peace  in  the  holy  recesses  of  the  tabernacle.  Let  his 
visits  among  men  be  transient ;  and  if  he  appear  amid  the  bustle 
of  the  world,  let  it  be  only  to  render  a  service  to  the  unhappy." 

It  is  on  these  conditions  that  the  priest  will  enjoy  the  respect 
and  confidence  of  his  people.  But  he  will  soon  forfeit  both  if  he 
be  seen  in  the  halls  of  the  rich,  if  he  be  encumbered  with  a  wife, 
if  he  be  too  familiar  in  society,  if  he  betray  faults  which  are 
condemned  in  the  world,  or  if  he  lead  those  around  him  to  sus 
pect  for  a  moment  that  he  is  a  man  like  other  men. 

Chastity  in  old  age  is  something  superhuman.  Priam,  ancient 
as  mount  Ida  and  hoary  as  the  oak  of  Gargarus,  surrounded  in 
his  palace  by  his  fifty  sens,  presents  a  nolle  type  of  paternity; 


MATRIMONY.  85 


but  Plato  without  wife  and  children,  seated  on  the  steps  of  a 
temple  at  the  extremity  of  a  cape  lashed  by  the  waves,  and  there 
lecturing  to  his  disciples  on  the  existence  of  God,  exhibits  a  far 
more  elevated  character.  He  belongs  not  to  the  earth ;  he  seems 
to  be  one  of  those  spirits  or  higher  intelligences  of  whom  he 
speaks  in  his  writings. 

Thus,  virginity,  ascending  from  the  last  link  in  the  chain  of 
beings  up  to  man,  soon  passes  from  man  to  the  angels,  and  from 
the  angels  to  God,  in  whom  it  is  absorbed.  God  reigns  in  a  glory 
unique,  inimitable  in  the  eternal  firmament,  as  the  sun,  his 
image,  shines  with  unequalled  splendor  in  the  visible  heavens. 

We  may  conclude,  that  poets  and  men  even  of  the  most  refined 
taste  can  make  no  reasonable  objection  to  the  celibacy  of  the 
priesthood,  since  virginity  is  among  the  cherished  recollections  of 
the  past,  is  one  of  the  charms  of  friendship,  is  associated  with 
the  solemn  thought  of  the  tomb,  with  the  innocence  of  child 
hood,  with  the  enchantment  of  youth,  with  the  charity  of  the 
religious,  with  the  sanctity  of  the  priest  and  of  old  age,  and  with 
the  divinity  in  the  angels  and  in  God  himself. 


CHAPTER  X. 

SAME    SUBJECT    CONTINUED MATRIMONY. 

EUROPE  owes  also  to  Christianity  the  few  good  laws  which  it 
possesses.  There  is  not,  perhaps,  a  single  contingency  in  civil 
affairs  for  which  provision  has  not  been  made  by  the  canon  law, 
the  fruit  of  the  experience  of  fifteen  centuries  and  of  the  genius 
of  the  Innocents  and  the  Gregories.  The  wisest  emperors  and 
kings,  as  Charlemagne  and  Alfred  the  Great,  were  of  opinion 
that  they  could  not  do  better  than  to  introduce  into  the  civil  code 
a  part  of  this  ecclesiastical  code,  which  contains  the  essence  of 
the  Levitical  law,  the  gospel,  and  the  Roman  jurisprudence. 
What  an  edifice  is  the  Church  of  Christ !  How  vast !  how 
wonderful ! 

In  elevating    marriage  to  the  dignity  of  a  sacrament,  JCSUP 

8 


8(5  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIAN! TV. 


Christ  has  shown  us,  in  the  first  place,  the  great  symbol  of  his 
union  with  the  Church.  When  we  consider  that  matrimony  is 
the  axis  on  which  the  whole  social  economy  revolves,  can  we 
suppose  it  to  be  ever  sufficiently  sacred,  or  too  highly  admire  the 
wisdom  of  him  who  has  stamped  it  with  the  seal  of  religion  ? 

The  Church  has  made  every  provision  for  so  important  a  step 
in  life.  She  has  determined  the  degrees  of  relationship  within 
which  matrimony  is  allowable.  The  canon  law,1  which  determines 
the  degree  of  consanguinity  by  the  number  of  generations  from 
the  parent  stock,  has  forbidden  marriage  within  the  fourth  gene 
ration  ;  while  the  civil  law,  following  a  double  mode  of  computa 
tion,  formerly  prohibited  it  only  within  the  second  degree.  Such 
was  the  Arcadian  law,  as  inserted  in  the  Institutes  of  Justinian.9 
But  the  Church,  with  her  accustomed  wisdom,  has  been  governed 
in  this  by  the  gradual  improvement  of  popular  manners.3  In  the 
first  ages  of  Christianity,  marriage  was  forbidden  within  the 
seventh  degree  of  consanguinity;  and  some  Councils,  as  that  of 
Toledo  in  the  sixth  century,  prohibited  without  exception  all 
alliances  between  members  of  the  same  family.4 

The  spirit  that  dictated  these  laws  is  worthy  of  the  pure  reli 
gion  which  we  profess.  The  pagan  world  was  far  from  imitating 
this  chastity  of  the  Christian  people.  At  Rome,  marriage  was 
permitted  between  cousins-german ;  and  Claudius,  in  order  to 
marry  Agrippina,  enacted  a  law  which  allowed  an  uncle  to  form 
an  alliance  with  his  niece.5  By  the  laws  of  Solon,  a  brother  could 
marry  his  sister  by  the  mother's  side.8 

i  Concil.  Lat.,  an.  1205  2  De  Nupt,  tit.  10 

3  Concil.  Duziac.,  an.  814.  The  canon  law  was  necessarily  modified  according 
to  the  manners  of  the  different  nations — Goths,  Vandals,  English,  Franks,  Bur- 
gundians — who  entered  successively  into  the  Church. 

4  Can.  5. 

5  Suet.,  in  Claud.     It  should  be  observed  that  this  law  did  not  become  gene 
ral,  as  we  learn  from  the  Fragments  of  Ulpian,  tit.  5  and  6,  and  that  it  was  re 
pealed  by  the  code  of  Theodosius,  as  well  as  that  relating  to  cousins-german. 
In  the  Christian  Church  the  pope  has  the  power  to  dispense  from  the  canon 
law,  according  to  circumstances :  a  very  wise  provision,  since  no  law  can  be  so 
universally  applicable  as  to  comprehend  every  case.    As  to  the  regulation  under 
the  Old  Testament  regarding  marriage  between  brothers  and  sisters,  it  belonged 
to  the  general  law  of  population,  which,  as  we  have  observed,  was  abolished  at 
the  coming  of  Christ,  when  the  different  races  of  men  had  received  their  com 
plement  6  ^lut.,  in  Sol. 


MATRIMONY.  87 


The  Church,  however,  did  not  confine  her  precautions  to  the 
above-mentioned  legislation.  For  some  time  she  followed  the 
Levitical  law  in  regard  to  those  who  were  related  by  affinity;  but 
subsequently  she  numbered  among  the  nullifying  impediments 
of  marriage,  all  the  degrees  of  affinity  corresponding  to  the  degrees 
of  consanguinity  within  which  marriage  is  prohibited.1  She 
also  provided  for  a  case  which  had  escaped  the  notice  of  all  pre 
vious  jurisprudence — that  of  a  man  guilty  of  illicit  intercourse 
with  a  woman.  According  to  the  discipline  of  the  Church,  -this 
man  cannot  marry  any  woman  who  is  related  within  the  second 
degree  to  the  object  of  his  unlawful  love.2  This  law,  which  had 
existed  to  a  certain  extent  in  the  early  ages  of  Christianity,3  be 
came  a  settled  point  by  a  decree  of  the  Council  of  Trent,  and  was 
considered  so  wise  an  enactment  that  the  French  code,  though  it 
rejected  the  Council  as  a  whole,  willingly  adopted  this  particular 
canon. 

The  numerous  impediments  to  marriage  between  relatives  which 
the  Church  has  established,  besides  being  founded  on  moral  and 
spiritual  considerations,  have  a  beneficial  tendency  in  a  political 
point  of  view,  by  encouraging  the  division  of  property,  and  pre 
venting  all  the  wealth  of  a  state  from  accumulating,  in  a  long 
series  of  years,  in  the  hands  of  a  few  individuals. 

The  Church  has  retained  the  ceremony  of  betrothing,  which 
may  be  traced  to  a  remote  antiquity.  We  are  informed  by  Aulus 
Gellius  that  it  was  known  among  the  people  of  Latium  :*  it  was 
adopted  by  the  Romans,5  and  was  customary  among  the  Greeks. 
It  was  honored  under  the  old  covenant;  and  in  the  new,  Joseph 
was  betrothed  to  Mary.  The  intention  of  this  custom  is  to  allow 
the  bride  and  bridegroom  time  to  become  acquainted  with  each 
other  previously  to  their  union.6 

In  our  rural  hamlets,  the  ceremony  of  betrothing  was  still  wit 
nessed  with  its  ancient  graces.7  On  a  beautiful  morning  in  the 
month  of  August,  a  young  peasant  repaired  to  the  farm-house  of 

1  Cone.  Lat.         2  Ibid.,  ch.  4,  sess.  24.         3  Cone.  Anc.,  cap.  ult,  an.  304. 
4  Noct.  Att,  lib.  iv.  cap.  4.  5  Lib.  ii.  ff.  de  Spons. 

6  St.  Augustine,  speaking  of  this  usage,  says  that  the  bride  is  not  given  to 
her  lord  immediately  after  the  betrothing,  "  lest  he  bo  inclined  to  think  less 
of  one  who  has  not  been  the  object  of  his  prolonged  aspirations." 

7  The  author  uses  the  past  tense,  alluding  to  customs  before  the  French  Re 
volution.     T. 


88  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

his  future  father-in-law,  to  join  his  intended  bride.  Two  musi 
cians,  reminding  you  of  the  minstrels  of  old,  led  the  way,  playing 
tunes  of  the  days  of  chivalry,  or  the  hymns  of  pilgrims.  De 
parted  ages,  issuing  from  their  Gothic  tombs,  seemed  to  accom 
pany  the  village  youth  with  their  ancient  manners  and  their 
ancient  recollections.  The  priest  pronounced  the  accustomed 
benediction  over  the  bride,  who  deposited  upon  the  altar  a  distaff 
adorned  with  ribbons.  The  company  then  returned  to  the  farm 
house;  the  lord  and  lady  of  the  manor,  the  clergyman  of  the 
parish,  and  the  village  justice,  placed  themselves,  with  the  young 
couple,  the  husbandmen  and  the  matrons,  round  a  table,  upon 
which  were  served  up  the  Eumoean  boar  and  the  fatted  calf  of 
the  patriarchs.  The  festivities  concluded  with  a  dance  in  the 
neighboring  barn ;  the  daughter  of  the  lord  of  the  manor  took 
the  bridegroom  for  her  partner,  while  the  spectators  were  seated 
upon  the  newly-harvested  sheaves,  forcibly  reminded  of  the 
daughters  of  Jethro,  the  reapers  of  Boo*z,  and  the  nuptials  of 
Jacob  and  Rachel. 

The  betrothing  is  followed  by  the  publication  of  the  bans.  This 
excellent  custom,  unknown  to  antiquity,  is  altogether  of  ecclesias 
tical  institution.  It  dates  from  a  period  anterior  to  the  fourteenth 
century,  as  it  is  mentioned  in  a  decretal  of  Innocent  III.,  who 
enacted  it  as  a  general  law  at  the  Council  of  Lateran.  It  was  re 
newed  by  the  Tridentine  Synod,  and  has  since  been  established 
in  France.  The  design  of  this  practice  is  to  prevent  clandestine 
unions,  and  to  discover  the  impediments  to  marriage  that  may 
exist  between  the  contracting  parties. 

But  at  length  the  Christian  marriage  approaches.  It  comes 
attended  by  a  very  different  ceremonial  from  that  which  accom 
panied  the  betrothing.  Its  pace  is  grave  and  solemn ;  its  rites 
are  silent  and  august.  Man  is  apprised  that  he  now  enters  upon 
a  new  career.  The  words  of  the  nuptial  blessing — words  which 
God  himself  pronounced  over  the  first  couple  in  the  world— fill 
the  husband  with  profound  awe,  while  they  announce  to  him  that 
he  is  performing  the  most  important  act  of  life ;  that,  like  Adam, 
he  is  about  to  become  the  head  of  a  family,  and  to  take  upon  him 
self  the  whole  burden  of  humanity.  The  wife  receives  a  caution 
equally  impressive.  The  image  of  pleasure  vanishes  before  that 
of  her  duties.  A  voice  seenis  to  issue  from  the  altar,  and  to  ad- 


MATRIMONY.  89 


dress  her  in  these  words  :  "  Knowest  thou,  0  Eve,  what  thou  art 
doing  ?  Knowest  thou  that  there  is  no  longer  any  liberty  for  thee 
but  that  of  the  tomb  ?  Knowest  thou  what  it. is  to  bear  in  thy 
mortal  womb  an  immortal  being,  formed  in  the  image  of  God?" 

Among  the  ancients,  the  hymeneal  rites  were  a  ceremony  replete 
with  licentiousness  and  clamorous  mirth,  which  suggested  none 
of  the  serious  reflections  that  marriage  inspires.  Christianity 
alone  has  restored  its  dignity. 

Religion  also,  discovering  before  philosophy  the  proportion  in 
which  the  two  sexes  are  born,  first  decreed  that  a  man  should 
have  but  one  wife,  and  that  their  union  should  be  indissoluble 
till  death.  Divorce  is  unknown  in  the  Catholic  Church,  except 
among  some  minor  nations  of  Illyria,  who  were  formerly  subject  to 
the  Venetian  government,  and  who  follow  the  Greek  rite.1  If  the 
passions  of  men  have  revolted  against  this  law, — if  they  have  not 
perceived  the  confusion  which  divorce  introduces  into  the  family, 
by  disturbing  the  order  of  succession,  by  alienating  the  paternal 
affections,  by  corrupting  the  heart  and  converting  marriage  into 
a  civil  prostitution, — we  cannot  hope  that  the  few  words  which  we 
have  to  offer  will  produce  any  effect.  Without  entering  deeply 
into  the  subject,  we  shall  merely  observe,  that  if  by  divorce  you 
think  to  promote  the  happiness  of  the  married  couple,  (and  this 
is  now  the  main  argument,)  you  lie  under  a  strange  mistake. 
That  man  who  has  not  been  the  comfort  of  a  first  wife, — who  could 
not  attach  himself  to  the  virginal  heart  and  first  maternity  of  his 
lawful  spouse, — who  has  not  been  able  to  bend  his  passions  to  the 
domestic  yoke,  or  to  confine  his  heart  to  the  nuptial  couch, — that 
man  will  never  confer  felicity  on  a  second  wife.  Neither  will  he 
himself  be  a  gainer  by  the  exchange.  What  he  takes  for  differ 
ences  of  temper  between  himself  and  the  wife  to  whom  he  is 

1  By  a  departure  from  the  tradition  and  practice  of  the  Church,  and  a  pre 
ference  for  the  concessions  of  the  civil  code,  it  had  become  the  custom  in  these 
countries  not  only  to  allow  divorce  a  mensa  el  thoro  in  cases  of  adultery,  but 
also  to  permit  the  parties  to  marry  again.  The  Council  of  Trent  was  on  the 
point  of  condemning  those  who  hold  that  marriage  is  dissolved  quoad  vin- 
culum  by  the  crime  of  adultery ;  but,  for  reasons  of  expediency,  the  canon  on 
this  subject  was  so  framed  as  not  to  stigmatize  them  with  the  note  of  heresy. 
See  Tournely,  De  Matr.,  p.  394 ;  Archbp.  Kenrick,  Theol.  Dogm.,  vol.  iv.  p.  120 ; 
Biblioth.  Sacree,tome  xvi.  art.  Mariage ;  Waterworth's  Canon*  and  Decrees  of 
Counc.  of  Trent,  p.  228,  &c.  T. 
8* 


90  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

united,  is  but  the  impulse  of  an  inconstant  disposition  and  the 
restlessness  of  desire.  Habit  and  length  of  time  are  more  neces 
sary  to  happiness,  and  even  to  love,  than  may  be  imagined.  A 
man  is  not  happy  in  the  object  of  his  attachment  till  he  has 
passed  many  days,  and,  above  all,  many  days  of  adversity,  in  her 
company.  They  ought  to  be  acquainted  with  the  most  secret 
recesses  of  each  other's  soul;  the  mysterious  veil  with  which 
husband  and  wife  were  covered  in  the  primitive  Church,  must  be 
lifted  up  in  all  its  folds  for  them,  while  to  the  eye  of  others  it 
remains  impenetrable.  What !  for  the  slightest  pretence  or  ca 
price  must  I  be  liable  to  lose  my  partner  and  my  children,  and 
renounce  the  pleasing  hope  of  passing  my  old  age  in  the  bosom 
of  my  family  ?  Let  me  not  be  told  that  this  apprehension  will 
oblige  me  to  be  a  better  husband.  No ;  we  become  attached  to 
that  good  only  of  which  we  are  certain,  and  set  but  little  value 
on  a  possession  of  which  we  are  likely  to  be  deprived. 

Let  us  not  give  to  matrimony  the  wings  of  lawless  love;  let  us 
not  transform  a  sacred  reality  into  a  fleeting  phantom.  There  is 
something  which  will  again  destroy  your  happiness  in  your  tran- 
cient  connections  :  you  will  be  pursued  by  remorse.  You  will  be 
continually  comparing  one  wife  with  another,  her  whom  you  have 
lost  with  her  whom  you  have  found ;  and,  believe  me,  the  balance 
will  always  be  in  favor  of  the  former.  Thus  has  God  formed  the 
heart  of  man.  This  disturbance  of  one  sentiment  by  another 
will  poison  all  your  pleasures.  When  you  fondly  caress  your 
new  child,  you  will  think  of  that  which  you  have  forsaken.  If 
you*  press  your  wife  to  your  heart,  your  heart  will  tell  you 
that  it  is  not  the  bosom  of  the  first.  Every  thing  tends  to 
unity  in  man.  He  is  not  happy  if  he  divides  his  affections ; 
and  like  God,  in  whose  image  he  was  created,  his  soul  inces 
santly  seeks  to  concentrate  in  one  point  the  past,  the  present,  and 
the  future. 

These  are  the  remarks  which  we  had  to  offer  on  the  sacraments 
of  Holy  Orders  and  Matrimony.  As  to  the  images  which  they 
suggest  to  the  mind,  we  deem  it  unnecessary  to  present  them. 
Where  is  the  imagination  that  cannot  picture  to  itself  the  priest 
bidding  adieu  to  the  joys  of  life,  that  he  may  devote  himself  to 
the  cause  of  humanity;  or  the  maiden  consecrating  herself  to  the 
silence  of  retirement,  that  she  may  find  the  silent  repose  of  her 


EXTREME  UNCTION.  91 


heart ;  or  the  betrothed  couple  appearing  at  the  altar  of  religion, 
to  vow  to  each  other  an  undying  love  ? 

The  wife  of  a  Christian  is  not  a  mere  mortal.  She  is  an  extra 
ordinary,  a  mysterious,  an  angelic  being ;  she  is  flesh  of  her  hus 
band's  flesh  and  bone  of  his  bone.  By  his  union  with  her  he 
only  takes  back  a  portion  of  his  substance.  His  soul,  as  well  as 
his  body,  is  imperfect  without  his  wife.  He  possesses  strength,  she 
has  beauty.  He  opposes  the  enemy  in  arms,  he  cultivates  the 
soil  of  his  country ;  but  he  enters  not  into  domestic  details ;  he 
has  need  of  a  wife  to  prepare  his  repast  and  his  bed.  He  encoun 
ters  afflictions,  and  the  partner  of  his  nights  is  there  to  soothe 
them ;  his  days  are  clouded  by  adversity,  but  on  his  couch  he 
meets  with  a  chaste  embrace  and  forgets  all  his  sorrows.  With 
out  woman  he  would  be  rude,  unpolished,  solitary.  Woman  sus 
pends  around  him  the  flowers  of  life,  like  those  honeysuckles  of 
the  forest  which  adorn  the  trunk  of  the  oak  with  their  perfumed 
garlands.  Finally,  the  Christian  husband  and  his  wife  live  and 
die  together ;  together  they  rear  the  issue  of  their  union ;  toge 
ther  they  return  to  dust,  and  together  they  again  meet  beyond 
the  confines  of  the  tomb,  to  part  no  more. 


CHAPTER  XI. 

EXTREME   UNCTION. 

BUT  it  is  in  sight  of  that  tomb,  silent  vestibule  of  another 
world,  that  Christianity  displays  all  its  sublimity.  If  most  of 
the  ancient  religions  consecrated  the  ashes  of  the  dead,  none  ever 
thought  of  preparing  the  soul  for  that  unknown  country  "from 
whose  bourn  no  traveller  returns  /" 

Come  and  witness  the  most  interesting  spectacle  that  earth  can 
exhibit.  Come  and  see  the  faithful  Christian  expire.  He  has 
ceased  to  be  a  creature  of  this  world :  he  no  longer  belongs  to  his 
native  country :  all  connection  between  him  and  society  is  at  an 
end.  For  him  the  calculations  of  time  have  closed,  and  he  has 
already  begun  to  date  from  the  great  era  of  eternity.  A  priest, 


92  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

seated  at  his  pillow,  administers  consolation.  This  minister  of 
God  cheers  the  dying  man  with  the  bright  prospect  of  immortal 
ity;  and  that  sublime  scene  which  all  antiquity  exhibited  but 
once,  in  the  last  moments  of  its  most  eminent  philosopher,  is  daily 
renewed  on  the  humble  pallet  of  the  meanest  Christian  that 
expires ! 

At  length  the  decisive  moment  arrives.  A  sacrament  opened 
to  this  just  man  the  gates  of  the  world ;  a  sacrament  is  about  to 
close  them.  Religion  rocked  him  in  the  cradle  of  life;  and  now 
her  sweet  song  and  maternal  hand  will  lull  him  to  sleep  in  the 
cradle  of  death.  She  prepares  the  baptism  of  this  second  birth  : 
but  mark,  she  employs  not  water;  she  anoints  him  with  oil,  em 
blem  of  celestial  incorruptibility.  The  liberating  sacrament  gra 
dually  loosens  the  Christian's  bonds.  His  soul,  nearly  set  free  from 
the  body,  is  almost  visible  in  his  countenance.  Already  he  hears 
the  concerts  of  the  seraphim:  already  he  prepares  to  speed  his 
flight  to  those  heavenly  regions  where  Hope,  the  daughter  of 
Virtue  and  of  Death,  invites  him.  Meanwhile,  the  angel  of  peace, 
descending  toward  this  righteous  man,  touches  with  a  golden 
sceptre  his  weary  eyes,  and  closes  them  deliciously  to  the  light. 
He  dies ;  yet  his  last  tngh  was  inaudible.  He  expires ;  yet,  long 
after  he  is  no  more,  his  friends  keep  silent  watch  around  his 
couch,  under  the  imf  ression  that  he  only  slumbers :  so  gently 
did  this  Christian  pass  from  earth. 


BOOK    II. 

VIKTUES    AND    MORAL    LAWS. 

CHAPTER  I. 

• 

VICES   AND   VIRTUES   ACCORDING   TO   RELIGION. 

MOST  of  the  ancient  philosophers  have  marked  the  distinction 
between  vices  and  virtues ;  but  how  far  superior  in  this  respect 
also  is  the  wisdom  of  religion  to  the  wisdom  of  men ! 

Let  us  first  consider  pride  alone,  which  the  Church  ranks  as 
the  principal  among  the  vices.  Pride  was  the  sin  of  Satan,  the 
first  sin  that  polluted  this  terrestrial  globe.  Pride  is  so  com 
pletely  the  root  of  evil,  that  it  is  intermingled  with  all  the  other 
infirmities  of  our  nature.  It  beams  in  the  smile  of  envy,  it  bursts 
forth  in  the  debaucheries  of  the  libertine,  it  counts  the  gold  of 
avarice,  it  sparkles  in  the  eyes  of  anger,  it  is  the  companion  of 
graceful  effeminacy. 

Pride  occasioned  the  fall  of  Adam ;  pride  armed  Cain  against 
his  innocent  brother ;  it  was  pride  that  erected  Babel  and  over 
threw  Babylon.  Through  pride  Athens  became  involved  in  the 
common  ruin  of  Greece ;  pride  destroyed  the  throne  of  Cyrus, 
divided  the  empire  of  Alexander,  and  crushed  Rome  itself  under 
the  weight  of  the  universe. 

In  the  particular  circumstances  of  life,  pride  produces  still 
more  baneful  effects.  It  has  the  presumption  to  attack  even  the 
Deity  himself. 

Upon  inquiring  into  the  causes  of  atheism,  we  are  led  to  this 
melancholy  observation  :  that  most  of  those  who  rebel  against 
Heaven  imagine  that  they  find  something  wrong  in  the  constitu 
tion  of  societj  or  the  order  of  nature ;  excepting,  however,  the 
young  who  are  seduced  by  the  world,  or  writei^iWhose  only 
object  is  to  attract  notice.  But  how  happens  it  that  they  who 
are  deprived  of  the  inconsiderable  advantages  which  a  capricious 

fortune  gives  or  takes  away,  have  not  the  sense  to  seek  the  re- 

93 


94  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

mcdy  of  this  trifling  evil  in  drawing  near  to  God?  He  is  the 
great  fountainhead  of  blessing.  So  truly  is  he  the  quintessence 
itself  of  beauty,  that  his  name  alone,  pronounced  with  love,  is 
sufficient  to  impart  something  divine  to  the  man  who  is  the  least 
favored  by  nature,  as  has  been  remarked  in  the  case  of  Socrates. 
Let  atheism  be  for  those  who,  not  having  courage  enough  to  rise 
superior  to  the  trials  of  their  lot,  display  in  their  blasphemies 
naught  but  the  first  vice  of  man. 

If  the  Church  has  assigne^  to  pride  the  first  place  in  the  scale 
of  human  depravity,  she  has  shown  no  less  wisdom  in  the  classi 
fication  of  the  six  other  capital  vices.  It  must  not  be  supposed 
that  the  order  of  their  arrangement  is  arbitrary :  we  need  only 
examine  it  to  perceive  that  religion,  with  an  admirable  discrimi 
nation,  passes  from  those  vices  which  attack  society  in  general  to 
such  as  recoil  upon  the  head  of  the  guilty  individual  alone.  Thus, 
for  instance,  envy,  luxury,  avarice  and  anger,  immediately  follow 
pride,  because  they  are  vices  which  suppose  a  foreign  object  and 
exist  only  in  the  midst  of  society;  whereas  gluttony  and  idle 
ness,  which  come  last,  are  solitary  and  base  inclinations,  that 
find  in  themselves  their  principal  gratification. 

In  the  estimate  and  classification  of  the  virtues,  we  behold  the 
same  profound  knowledge  of  human  nature.  Before  the  coming 
of  Jesus  Christ  the  human  soul  was  a  chaos;  the  Word  spoke, 
and  order  instantly  pervaded  the  intellectual  world,  as  the  same 
fiat  had  once  produced  the  beautiful  arrangement  of  the  physical 
world  :  this  was  the  moral  creation  of  the  universe.  The  virtues, 
like  pure  fires,  ascended  into  the  heavens :  some,  like  brilliant 
suns,  attracted  every  eye  by  their  glorious  radiance ;  others,  more 
modest  luminaries,  appeared  only  under  the  veil  of  night,  which, 
however,  could  not  conceal  their  lustre.  From  that  moment  an 
admirable  balance  between  strength  and  weakness  was  esta 
blished  ;  religion  hurled  all  her  thunderbolts  at  Pride,  that  vice 
which  feeds  upon  the  virtues  :  she  detected  it  in  the  inmost  re 
cesses  of  the  heart,  she  pursued  it  in  all  its  changes ;  the  sacra 
ments,  in  holy  array,  were  marshalled  against  it ;  *and  Humility, 
clothed  in  j^kcloth,  her  waist  begirt  with  a  cord,  her  feet  bare, 
her  head  covered  with  ashes,  her  downcast  eyes  swimming  in 
tears,  became  one  of  the  primary  virtues  of  the  believer. 


FAITH.  95 


CHAPTER  II. 

OP   FAITH. 

AND  what  were  the  virtues  so  highly  recommended  oy  the 
sages  of  Greece  ?  Fortitude,  temperance,  and  prudence.  None 
but  Jesus  Christ  could  teach  the  world  that  faith,  hope  and 
charity,  are  virtues  alike  adapted  to  the  ignorance  and  the  wretch 
edness  of  man. 

It  was  undoubtedly  a  stupendous  wisdom  that  pointed  out  faith 
to  us  as  the  source  of  all  the  virtues.  There  is  no  power  but  in 
conviction.  If  a  train  of  reasoning  is  strong,  a  poem  divine,  a 
picture  beautiful,  it  is  because  the  understanding  or  the  eye,  to 
whose  judgment  they  are  submitted,  is  convinced  of  a  certain 
truth  hidden  in  this  reasoning,  this  poem,  this  picture.  What 
wonders  a  small  band  of  troops  persuaded  of  the  abilities  of  their 
leader  is  capable  of  achieving !  Thirty-five  thousand  Greeks  fol 
low  Alexander  to  the  conquest  of  the  world ;  Lacedsemon  com 
mits  her  destiny  to  the  hands  of  Lycurgus,  and  Laeedsemon 
becomes  the  wisest  of  cities ;  Babylon  believes  that  she  is  formed 
for  greatness,  and  greatness  crowns  her  confidence;  an  oracle 
gives  the  empire  of  the  universe  to  the  Romans,  and  the  Romans 
obtain  the  empire  of  the  universe;  Columbus  alone,  among  all 
his  contemporaries,  persists  in  believing  the  existence  of  a  new 
world,  and  a  new  world  rises  from  the  bosom  of  the  deep. 
Friendship,  patriotism,  love,  every  noble  sentiment,  is  likewise  a 
species  of  faith.  Because  they  had  faith,  a  Codrus,  a  Pylades, 
a  Regulus,  an  Arria,  performed  prodigies.  For  the  same  reason, 
they  who  believe  nothing,  who  treat  all  the  convictions  of  the 
soul  as  illusions,  who  consider  every  noble  action  as  insanity,  and 
look  with  pity  upon  the  warm  imagination  and  tender  sensibility 
of  genius — for  the  same  reason  such  hearts  will  never  achieve 
any  thing  great  or  generous  :  they  have  faith  only  in  matter  and 
in  death,  and  they  are  already  insensible  as  the  one,  and  cold  and 
icy  as  the  other. 


0(5  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

In  the  language  of  ancient  chivalry,  to  pledge  one's  faith  was 
synonymous  with  all  the  prodigies  of  honor.  Roland,  Duguesclin, 
Bayard,  were  faithful  knights;  and  the  fields  of  Roncevaux,  of 
Auray,  of  Bresse,  the  descendants  of  the  Moors,  of  the  English, 
and  of  the  Lombards,  still  tell  what  men  they  were  who  plighted 
their  faith  and  homage  to  their  God,  their  lady,  and  their  coun 
try.  Shall  we  mention  the  martyrs,  "who,"  to  use  the  words  of 
St.  Ambrose,  "without  armies,  without  legions,  vanquished  ty 
rants,  assuaged  the  fury  of  lions,  took  from  the  fire  its  vehemence 
and  from  the  sword  its  edge"  ?*  Considered  in  this  point  of  view, 
faith  is  so  formidable  a  power,  that  if  it  were  applied  to  evil  pur 
poses  it  would  convulse  the  world.  There  is  nothing  that  a  man 
who  is  under  the  influence  of  a  profound  conviction,  and  who 
submits  his  reason  implicitly  to  the  direction  of  another,  is  not 
capable  of  performing.  This  proves  that  the  most  eminent  vir 
tues,  when  separated  from  God  and  taken  in  their  merely  moral 
relations,  border  on  the  greatest  vices.  Had  philosophers  made 
this  observation,  they  would  not  have  taken  so  much  pains  to  fix 
the  limits  between  good  and  evil.  There  was  no  necessity  for  the 
Christian  lawgiver,  like  Aristotle,  to  contrive  a  scale  for  the  pur 
pose  of  ingeniously  placing  a  virtue  between  two  vices ;  he  has 
completely  removed  the  difficulty,  by  inculcating  that  virtues  are 
not  virtues  unless  they  flow  back  toward  their  source — that  is  to 
say,  toward  the  Deity. 

Of  this  truth  we  shall  be  thoroughly  convinced,  if  we  consider 
faith  in  reference  to  human  affairs,  but  a  faith  which  is  the  off 
spring  of  religion.  From  faith  proceed  all  the  virtues  of  society, 
since  it  is  true,  according  to  the  unanimous  acknowledgment  of 
wise  men,  that  the  doctrine  which  commands  the  belief  in  a  God 
who  will  reward  and  punish  is  the  main  pillar  both  of  morals  and 
of  civil  government. 

Finally,  if  we  employ  faith  for  its  higher  and  specific  objects,— 
if  we  direct  it  entirely  toward  the  Creator, — if  we  make  it  the 
intellectual  eye,  by  which  to  discover  the  wonders  of  the  holy 
city  and  the  empire  of  real  existence, — if  it  serve  for  wings  to 
our  soul,  to  raise  us  above  the  calamities  of  life, — we  will  admit 
that  the  Scriptures  have  not  too  highly  extolled  this  virtue,  when 

1  Ambros.,  de  Off.,  c.  35. 


HOPE   AND   CHARITY.  97 

they  speak  of  the  prodigies  which  may  be  performed  by  its 
means.  Faith,  celestial  comforter,  thoti  dost  more  than  remove 
mountains  :  thou  takest  away  the  heavy  burdens  by  which  the 
heart  of  man  is  gvievously  oppressed  I1 


CHAPTER   III. 

OF    HOPE    AND    CHARITY. 


^  HOPE,  the  second  theological  virtue,  is  almost  as  powerful  as 
faith.  Desire  is  the  parent  of  power;  whoever  strongly  desires 
is  sure  to  obtain.  "  Seek,"  says  Jesus  Christ,  "  and  ye  shall  find  ; 
knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened  unto  you."  In  the  same  sense  Py 
thagoras  observed  that  "Power  dwelleth  with  necessity;"  for 
necessity  implies  privation,  and  privation  is  accompanied  with 
desire.  Desire  or  hope  is  genius.  It  possesses  that  energy  which 
produces,  and  that  thirst  which  is  never  appeased.  Is  a  man 
disappointed  in  his  plans  ?  it  is  because  he  did  not  desire  with 
ardor;  because  he  was  not  animated  with  that  love  which 
sooner  or  later  grasps  the  object  to  which  it  aspires;  that  love 
which  in  the  Deity  embraces  all  things  and  enjoys  all,  by  means 
of  a  boundless  hope,  ever  gratified  and  ever  reviving. 

There  is,  however,  an  essential  difference  between  faith  and 
hope  considered  as  a  power.  Faith  has  its  focus  out  of  ourselves; 
it  arises  from  an  external  object.  Hope,  on  the  contrary,  springs 
up  within  us,  and  operates  externally.  The  former  is  instilled 
into  us,  the  latter  is  produced  by  our  own  desire;  the  former  is 
obedience,  the  latter  is  love.  But  as  faith  more  readily  produces 
the  other  virtues,  as  it  flows  immediately  from  God,  and  is  there 
fore  superior  to  hope,  which  is  only  a  part  of  man,  the  Church 
necessarily  assigned  to  it  the  highest  rank. 

The  peculiar  characteristic  of  hope  is  that  which  places  it  in 
relation  with  our  sorrows.  That  religion  which  made  a  virtue  of 
hope  was  most  assuredly  revealed  by  heaven.  This  nurse  of  the 
unfortunate,  taking  her  station  by  man  like  a  mother  beside  her 


1  See  note  D 
G 


98  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 

suffering  child,  rocks  him  in  her  arms,  presses  him  to  her  bosom, 
and  refreshes  him  with  a  beverage  which  soothes  all  his  woes. 
She  watches  by  his  solitary  pillow;  she  lulls  him  to  sleep  with 
her  magic  strains.  Is  it  not  surprising  to  see  hope,  which  is  so 
delightful  a  companion  and  seems  to  be  a  natural  emotion  of  the 
soul,  transformed  for  the  Christian  into  a  virtue  which  is  an  es 
sential  part  of  his  duty?  Let  him  do  what  he  will,  he  is  obliged 
to  drink  copiously  from  this  enchanted  cup,  at  which  thousands 
of  poor  creatures  would  esteem  themselves  happy  to  moisten  their 
lips  for  a  single  moment.  Nay,  more,  (and  this  is  the  most  mar 
vellous  circumstance  of  all,)  he  will  be  rewarded  for  having 
hoped,  or,  in  other  words,  for  having  made  himself  happy.  The 
Christian,  whose  life  is  a  continual  warfare,  is  treated  by  religion 
in  his  defeat  like  those  vanquished  generals  whom  the  Roman 
senate  received  in  triumph,  for  this  reason  alone,  that  they  had 
not  despaired  of  the  final  safety  of  the  commonwealth.  But  if 
the  ancients  ascribed  something  marvellous  to  the  man  who  never 
despaired,  what  would  they  have  thought  of  the  Christian,  who, 
in  his  astonishing  language,  talks  not  of  entertaining  hope,  but 
of  practising  it  ? 

What  shall  we  now  say  of  that  charity  which  is  the  daughter 
of  Jesus  Christ  ?  The  proper  signification  of  charity  is  grace 
and  joy.  Religion,  aiming  at  the  reformation  of  the  human 
heart,  and  wishing  to  make  its  affections  and  feelings  subservient 
to  virtue,  has  invented  a  new  passion.  In  order  to  express  it, 
she  has  not  employed  the  word  love,  which  is  too  common ;  or 
the  word  friendship,  which  ceases  at  the  tomb ;  or  the  word  pity, 
which  is  too  much  akin  to  pride :  but  she  has  found  the  term 
caritasj  CHARITY,  which  embraces  all  the  three,  and  which  at  the 
same  time  is  allied  to  something  celestial.  By  means  of  this,  she 
purifies  our  inclinations  and  directs  them  toward  the  Creator; 
by  this  she  inculcates  that  admirable  truth,  that  men  ought  to 
love  each  other  in  God,  who  will  thus  spiritualize  their  love,  di 
vesting  it  of  all  earthly  alloy  and  leaving  it  in  its  immortal 
purity.  By  this  she  inculcates  the  stupendous  truth  that  mortals 
ought  to  love  each  other,  if  I  may  so  express  myself,  through 
God,  who  spiritualizes  their  love,  and  separates  from  it  whatever 
belongs  not  to  its  immortal  essence. 

But  if  charity  is  a  Christian  virtue,  an  immediate  emanation 


THE  MORAL  LAWS,  OR  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS.  99 


from  the  Almighty  and  his  Word,  it  is  also  in  close  alliance  with 
nature.  It  is  in  this  continual  harmony  between  heaven  and 
earth,  between  God  and  man,  that  we  discover  the  character  of 
true  religion.  The  moral  and  political  institutions  of  antiquity 
are  often  in  contradiction  to  the  sentiments  of  the  human  soul. 
Christianity,  on  the  contrary,  ever  in  unison  with  the  heart,  en 
joins  not  solitary  and  abstract  virtues,  but  such  as  are  derived 
from  our  wants  and  are  useful  to  mankind.  It  has  placed  charity 
as  an  abundant  fountain  in  the  desert  of  life.  "  Charity,"  says 
the  apostle,  "  is  patient,  is  kind ;  charity  envieth  not,  dealeth  not 
perversely,  is  not  puffed  up,  is  not  ambitious,  seeketh  not  her 
own,  is  not. provoked  to  anger,  thinketh  no  evil,  rejoiceth  not  in 
iniquity,  but  rejoiceth  with  the  truth;  beareth  all  things,  be- 
lieveth  all  things,  hopeth  all  things,  endureth  all  things/'1 


CHAPTER  IV. 

OF   THE   MORAL   LAWS,  OR   THE   TEN   COMMANDMENTS. 

IT  is  a  reflection  not  a  little  mortifying  to  our  pride,  that  all 
the  maxims  of  human  wisdom  may  be  comprehended  in  a  few 
pages  :  and  even  in  those  pages  how  many  errors  may  be  found  ! 
The  laws  of  Minos  and  Lycurgus  have  remained  standing  after 
the  fall  of  the  nations  for  which  they  were  designed,  only  as  the 
pyramids  of  the  desert,  the  immortal  palaces  of  death. 

Laws  of  the  Second  Zoroaster. 

Time,  boundless  and  uncreated,  is  the  creator  of  all  things. 
The  word  was  his  daughter,  who  gave  birth  to  Orsmus,  the  good 
deity,  and  Arimhan,  the  god  of  evil. 

Invoke  the  celestial  bull,  the  father  of  grass  and  of  man. 

The  most  meritorious  work  that  a  man  can  perform  is  to  cul 
tivate  his  land  with  care. 

Pray  with  purity  of  thought,  word,  and  action.3 

1  1  Cor.  xiii.  2  Zend-avesta. 


BIB.  MAJ, 


100  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Teach  thy  child  at  the  age  of  five  years  the  distinction  between 
good  and  evil.1  Let  the  ungrateful  be  punished.3 

The  child  who  has  thrice  disobeyed  his  father  shall  die. 

The  law  declares  the  woman  who  contracts  a  second  marriage 
to  be  impure. 

The  impostor  shall  be  scourged  with  rods. 

Despise  the  liar. 

At  the  end  and  the  beginning  of  the  year  keep  a  festival  of 
ten  days. 

Indian  Laws. 

The  universe  is  Vishnu. 

Whatever  has  been,  is  he;  whatever  is,  is  he;  whatever  will 
be,  is  he. 

Let  men  be  equal. 

Love  virtue  for  its  own  sake ;  renounce  the  fruit  of  thy  works. 

Mortal,  be  wise,  and  thou  shalt  be  strong  as  ten  thousand 
elephants. 

The  soul  is  God. 

Confess  the  faults  of  thy  children  to  the  sun  and  to  men,  and 
purify  thyself  in  the  waters  of  the  Ganges.5 

Egyptian  Laws. 

Cnef,  the  universal  God,  is  unknown  darkness,  impenetrable 
obscurity. 

Osiris  is  the  good,  and  Typhon  the  evil  deity. 

Honor  thy  parents. 

Follow  the  profession  of  thy  father. 

Be  virtuous;  the  judges  of  the  lake  will,  after  thy  death,  pass 
sentence  on  thy  actions. 

Wash  thy  body  twice  each  day  and  twice  each  night. 

Live  upon  little. 

Reveal  no  secrets.4 

Laws  of  Minos 
Swear  not  by  the  Gods. 
Young  man,  examine  not  the  law. 

1  Xenoph.,  Cyrop. ;  Plat,  de  Leg.,  lib.  ii.  2  Xenoph  ,  Cyrop. 

3  Free,  of  the  Bram. ;  Hist,  of  Ind. ;  Diod.  Sic.,  dec. 

4  Herod.,  lib.  ii. ;  Plat.,  de  Leg. ;  Plut.,  de  Is.  et  Ot. 

•*-*'* 


THE  MORAL  LAWS,  OR  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS.  101 

The  law  declares  him  infamous  who  has  no  friend. 

The  adultress  shall  be  crowned  with  wool,  and  sold. 

Let  your  repasts  be  public,  your  life  frugal,  and  your  dances 
martial.1 

[We  shall  not  quote  here  the  laws  of  Lycurgus,  because  they 
are  partly  but  a  repetition  of  those  of  Minos.] 

Laws  of  Solon. 

The  son  who  neglects  to  bury  his  father,  and  he  who  defends 
him  not,  shall  die. 

The  adulterer  shall  not  enter  the  temples. 

The  magistrate  who  is  intoxicated  shall  drink  hemlock. 

The  cowardly  soldier  shall  be  punished  with  death. 

It  shall  be  lawful  to  kill  the  citizen  who  remains  neutral  in 
eivil  dissensions. 

Let  him  who  wishes  to  die  acquaint  the  Archon,  and  die. 

He  who  is  guilty  of  sacrilege  shall  suffer  death. 

Wife,  be  the  guide  of  thy  blind  husband. 

The  immoral  man  shall  be  disqualified  for  governing.3 

Primitive  Laws  of  Rome. 

Honor  small  fortune. 

Let  men  be  both  husbandmen  and  soldiers. 

Keep  wine  for  the  aged. 

The  husbandman  who  eats  his  ox  shall  be  sentenced  to  die.8 

Laws  of  the  Gauls,  or  Druids. 

The  universe  is  eternal,  the  soul  immortal. 

Honor  nature. 

Defend  thy  mother,  thy  country,  the  earth 

Admit  woman  into  thy  councils. 

Honor  the  stranger,  and  set  apart  his  portion  out  of  thy  har 
vest. 

The  man  who  has  lost  his  honor  shall  be  buried  in  mud. 

Erect  no  temples,  and  commit  the  history  of  the  past  to  thy 
memory  alone. 

Man,  thou  art  free ;  own  no  property.          

i  Arist.,  Pol.;  Plat,  de  leg.  2  Plut.,  in  Vit.  Sol. ;  Tit.  Liv. 

»  Plut.,  in  Num.  j  Tit.  Liv. 
9* 


102  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


Honor  the  aged,  and  let  not  the  young  bear  witness  against 
them. 

The  brave  man  shall  be  rewarded  after  death,  and  the  coward 
punished.1 

Laws  of  Pythagoras. 

Honor  the  immortal  Gods  as  established  by  the  law. 

Honor  thy  parents. 

Do  that  which  will  not  wound  thy  memory. 

Close  not  thine  eyes  to  sleep,  till  thou  hast  thrice  examined  in 
thy  soul  the  actions  of  the  day. 

Ask  thyself:  Where  have  I  been?  What  have  I  done?  What 
ought  I  to  have  done  ? 

Then,  after  a  holy  life,  when  thy  body  shall  return  to  the  ele 
ments,  thou  shalt  become  immortal  and  incorruptible ;  thou  shalt 
no  longer  be  liable  to  death.2 

Such  is  nearly  all  that  has  been  preserved  of  the  so  highly 
vaunted  wisdom  of  antiquity  !  Here,  God  is  represented  as  pro 
found  darkness ;  doubtless  from  excess  of  light,  like  the  dimness 
that  obstructs  the  sight  when  you  endeavor  to  look  at  the  sun  : 
there,  the  man  who  has  no  friend  is  declared  infamous,  a  denun 
ciation  which  includes  all  the  unfortunate :  again,  suicide  is 
authorized  by  law  :  and  lastly,  some  of  these  sages  seem  totally 
to  forget  the  existence  of  a  Supreme  Being.  Moreover,  how 
many  vague,  incoherent,  commonplace  ideas  are  found  in  most 
of  these  sentences  !  The  sages  of  the  Portico  and  of  the  Academy 
altermitely  proclaim  such  contradictory  maxims,  that  we  may 
prove  from  the  same  book  that  its  author  believed  and  did  not 
believe  in  God ;  that  he  acknowledged  and  did  not  acknowledge 
a  positive  virtue;  that  liberty  is  the  greatest  of  blessings  and 
despotism  the  best  of  governments. 

1  Tacit.,  de  mor.  Germ. ;  Strab. ;  Caesar,  Com. ;  Edda,  Ac. 

2  To  these  Tables  might  be  added  an  extract  from  Plato's  Republic,  or  rather 
from  the  twelve  books  of  his  laws,  which  we  consider  his  best  work,  on  account 
of  the  exquisite  picture  of  the  three  old  men  who  converse  together  on  their 
way  to  the  fountain,  and  the  good  sense  which  pervades  this  dialogue.     But 
these  precepts  were  not  reduced  t)  practice;  we  shall  therefore  refrain  from 
any  notice  of  them.     As  to  the  Koran,  all  that  it  contains,  either  holy  or  just, 
is  borrowed  almost  verbatim  from  our  sacred  Scriptures  j  the  rest  is  a  KaKbin- 
ical  compilation. 


THE  MORAL  LAWS,  OR  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS  103 


If,  amid  these  conflicting  sentiments,  we  were  to  discover  a 
code  of  moral  laws,  without  contradictions,  without  errors,  which 
would  remove  all  our  doubts,  and  teach  us  what  we  ought  to  think 
of  God  and  in  what  relation  we  really  stand  with  men, — if  this 
code  were  delivered  with  a  tone  of  authority  and  a  simplicity  of 
language  never  before  known, — should  we  not  conclude  that  these 
laws  have  emanated  from  heaven  alone  ?  These  divine  precepts 
we  possess;  and  what  a  subject  do  they  present  for  the  medita 
tion  of  the  sage  and  for  the  fancy  of  the  poet !  Behold  Moses 
as  he  descends  from  the  burning  mountain.  In  his  hands  he  3ar- 
ries  two  tables  of  stone;  brilliant  rays  encircle  his  brow;  his  face 
beams  with  divine  glory;  the  terrors  of  Jehovah  go  before  him; 
in  the  horizon  are  seen  the  mountains  of  Libanus,  crowned  with 
their  eternal  snows,  and  their  stately  cedars  disappearing  in  the 
clouds.  Prostrate  at  the  foot  of  Sinai,  the  posterity  of  Jacob 
cover  their  faces,  lest  they  behold  God  and  die.  At  length  the 
thunders  cease,  and  a  voice  proclaims  : — 

Hearken,  0  Israel,  unto  me,  Jehovah,  thy  Gods,1  who  have 
brought  thee  out  of  the  land  of  Mizraim,  out  of  the  house  of 
bondage. 

1.  Thou  shalt  have  no  other  Gods  before  my  face. 

2.  Thou  shalt  not  make  any  idol  with  thy  hands,  nor  any 
image  of  that  which  is  in  the  astonishing  waters  above,  nor  on 
the  earth  beneath,  nor  in  the  waters  under  the  earth.     Thou  shalt 
not  bow  before  the  images,  and  thou  shalt  not  serve  them ;  for  I, 
I  am  Jehovah,  thy  Gods,  the  strong  God,  the  jealous  God,  visit 
ing  the  iniquity  of  the  fathers,  the  iniquity  of  those  who  hate  me, 

1  We  translate  the  Decalogue  verbatim  from  the  Hebrew,  on  account  of  the 
expression  thy  Gods,  which  is  not  rendered  in  any  version.  (Elohe  is  the  plu 
ral  masculine  of  Elohim,  God,  Judge;  we  frequently  meet  wifh  it  thus  in  the 
plural  in  the  Bible,  while  the  verb,  the  pronoun,  and  the  adjective  remain  in 
the  singular.  In  Gen.  i.  we  read  Elohe  bara,  the  Gods  created,  (sing.)  and  it  ia 
impossible  to  understand  any  other  than  three  persons ;  for  if  two  had  been 
meant,  Elohim  would  have  been  in  the  dual.  We  shall  make  another  remark, 
not  less  important,  respecting  the  word  Adamah,  which  likewise  occurs  in  the 
Decalogue.  Adam  signifies  red  earth,  and  ah,  the  expletive,  expresses  some 
thing  farther,  beyond.  God  makes  use  of  it  in  promising  long  days  on  the 
earth  AND  BEYOND  to  such  children  as  honor  their  father  and  mother.  Thug 
the  Trinity  and  the  immortality  of  the  soul  are  implied  in  the  Decalogue  by 
Elohe,  thy  Gods,  or  several  divine  existents  in  unity,  Jehovah  ;  and  Adam-ah, 
earth  and  beyond.)  See  note  E. 


104  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

upon  the  children  to  the  third  and  fourth  generation,  ana  show 
ing  mercy  a  thousand  times  to  those  who  love  me  and  who  keep 
my  commandments. 

3.  Thou  shalt  not  take  the  name  of  Jehovah,  thy   Gods,  in 
vain ;  for  he  will  not  hold  him  guiltless  who  taketh  his  name  in 
vain. 

4.  Remember  the  sabbath  day  to  keep  it  holy.     Six  days  shalt 
thou  labor  and  do  thy  work ;  but  the  seventh  day  of  Jehovah, 
thy  Gods,  thou  shalt  not  do  any  work,  neither  thou,  nor  thy  son, 
nor  thy  daughter,  nor  thy  man-servant,  nor  thy  maid-servant,  nor 
thy  camel,  nor  thy  guest  before  thy  doors;  for  in  six  days  Jeho 
vah  made  the  marvellous  waters  above,1  the  earth  and  the  sea, 
and  all  that  is  in  them,  and  rested  the  seventh  day :  wherefore 
Jehovah  blessed  and  hallowed  it. 

5.  Honor  thy  father  and  thy  mother,  that  thy  days  may  be 
long  on  the  earth  and  beyond  the  earth  which  Jehovahr<%  Gods, 
hath  given  thee. 

6.  Thou  shalt  not  kill. 

7.  Thou  shalt  not  commit  adultery. 

8.  Thou  shalt  not  steal. 

9.  Thou  shalt  not  bear  false  witness  against  thy  neighbor. 

10.  Thou  shalt  not  covet  thy  neighbor's  house,  nor  thy  neigh- 
bor's  wife,  nor  his  man-servant,  nor  his  maid-servant,  nor  his  ox, 
nor  his  ass,  nor  any  thing  that  is  thy  neighbor's. 

Such  are  the  laws  which  the  great  Creator  has  engraved,  not 
only  upon  the  marble  of  Sinai,  but  also  upon  the  heart  of  man. 
What  strikes  us,  in  the  first  place,  is  that  character  of  univer 
sality  which  distinguishes  this  divine  code  from  all  human  codes 
that  precede  it.  Here  we  have  the  law  of  all  nations,  of  all  cli 
mates,  of  all  times.  Pythagoras  and  Zoroaster  addressed  the 
Greeks  and  the  Medes ;  Jehovah  speaks  to  all  mankind.  In  him 
we  recognise  that  Almighty  Father  who  watches  over  the  uni 
verse,  and  who  dispenses  alike  from  his  bounteous  hand  the  grain 
of  corn  that  feeds  the  insect  and  the  sun  that  enlightens  it. 

i  This  translation  is  far  from  giving  any  idea  of  the  magnificence  of  the  ori 
ginal.  Shamajim  is  a  kind  of  exclamation  of  wonder,  like  the  voice  of  a  whole 
nation,  which,  on  viewing  the  firmament,  would  cry  out  with  one  accord  "Be 
hold  those  miraculous  waters  suspended  in  the  expanse  above  us.'— those  orbs  of 
crystal  and  of  diamond!"  How  is  it  possible  to  render  in  our  language,  in  the 
translation  of  a  law,  this  poetical  idea  conveyed  in  a  word  of  three  syllables  ? 


THE  MOKAL  LAWS,  OR  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS.  105 


In  the  next  place,  nothing  can  be  more  admirable  than  these 
moral  laws  of  the  Hebrews,  for  their  simplicity  and  justice.  The 
pagans  enjoined  upon  men  to  honor  the  authors  of  their  days  :  So 
lon  decrees  death  as  the  punishment  of  the  wicked  son.  What 
does  the  divine  law  say  on  this  subject?  It  promises  life  to  filial 
piety.  This  commandment  is  founded  on  the  very  constitution 
of  our  nature.  God  makes  a  precept  of  filial  love,  but  he  has  not 
enjoined  paternal  affection.  He  knew  that  the  son,  in  whom  are 
centred  all  the  thoughts  and  hopes  of  the  father,  would  often  be 
but  too  fondly  cherished  by  his  parent :  but  he  imposed  the  duty 
of  love  upon  the  son,  because  he  knew  the  fickleness  and  the  pride 
of  youth. 

In  the  Decalogue,  as  in  the  other  works  of  the  Almighty,  we 
behold  majesty  and  grace  of  expression  combined  with  the  in 
trinsic  power  of  divine  wisdom.  The  Brahmin  expresses  but 
very  imperfectly  the  three  persons  of  the  Deity ;  the  name  of 
Jehovah  embraces  them  in  a  single  word,  composed  of  three 
tenses  of  the  verb  to  be  united  by  a  sublime  combination  :  havah, 
he  was ;  hovah,  being,  or  he  is ;  and  je,  which,  when  placed  be 
fore  the  three  radical  letters  of  a  verb  in  Hebrew,  indicates  the 
future,  he  will  be. 

Finally,  the  legislators  of  antiquity  have  marked  in  their  codes 
the  epochs  of  the  festivals  of  nations ;  but  Israel's  sabbath  or  day 
of  rest  is  the  sabbath  of  God  himself.  The  Hebrew,  as  well  as 
the  Gentile,  his  heir,  in  the  hours  of  his  humble  occupation,  has 
nothing  less  before  his  eyes  than  the  successive  creation  of  the 
universe.  Did  Greece,  though  so  highly  poetical,  ever  refer  the 
labors  of  the  husbandman  or  the  artisan  to  those  splendid  moments 
in  which  God  created  the  light,  marked  out  the  course  of  the  sun, 
and  animated  the  heart  of  man  ? 

Laws  of  God,  how  little  do  you  resemble  those  of  human  insti 
tution  !  Eternal  as  the  principle  whence  you  emanated,  in  vain 
do  ages  roll  away ;  ye  are  proof  against  the  lapse  of  time,  against 
persecution,  and  against  the  corruption  of  nations.  This  reli 
gious  legislation,  organized  in  the  bosom  of  political  legislations, 
and  nevertheless  independent  of  their  fate,  is  an  astonishing  pro 
digy.  While  forms  of  government  pass  away  or  are  newly- 
modelled,  while  power  is  transferred  from  hand  to  hand,  a  few 
Christians  continue,  amid  the  changes  of  life,  to  adore  the  same 


106  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

God,  to  submit  to  the  same  laws,  without  thinking  themselves 
released  from  their  ties  by  revolution,  adversity,  and  example. 
What  religion  of  antiquity  did  not  lose  its  moral  influence  with 
the  loss  of  its  priests  and  its  sacrifices  ?  Where  are  now  the 
mysteries  of  Trophonius's  cave  and  the  secrets  of  the  Eleusinian 
Ceres?  Did  not  Apollo  fall  with  Delphi,  Baal  with  Babylon, 
Serapis  with  Thebes,  Jupiter  with  the  Capitol  ?  It  can  be  said 
of  Christianity  alone,  that  it  has  often  witnessed  the  destruction 
of  its  temples,  without  being  affected  by  their  fall.  There  were 
not  always  edifices  erected  in  honor  of  Jesus  Christ;  but  every 
place  is  a  temple  for  the  living  God :  the  receptacle  of  the  dead, 
the  cavern  of  the  mountain,  and  above  all,  the  heart  of  the  right 
eous.  Jesus  Christ  had  not  always  altars  of  porphyry,  pulpits  of 
cedar  and  ivory,  and  happy  ones  of  this  world  for  his  servants : 
a  stone  in  the  desert  is  sufficient  for  the  celebration  of  his  mys 
teries,  a  tree  for  the  proclamation  of  his  laws,  and  a  bed  of  t;  orne 
f  w  the  practice  of  his  virtues. 


BOOK    III. 

THE  TRUTHS  OF  THE  SCRIPTURES,  THE  FALL  OF  MAN. 
CHAPTER  I. 

THE     SUPERIORITY     OF     THE     HISTORY     OF     MOSES     OVER     ALL 
OTHER   COSMOGONIES. 

THERE  are  truths  which  no  one  calls  in  question,  though  it  is 
.mpossible  to  furnish  any  direct  proofs  of  them.  The  rebellion 
and  fall  of  Lucifer,  the  creation  of  the  world,  the  primeval  hap 
piness  and  transgression  of  man,  belong  to  the  number  of  these 
truths.  It  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  an  absurd  falsehood  could 
have  become  a  universal  tradition.  Open  the  books  of  the 
second  Zoroaster,  the  dialogues  of  Plato,  and  those  of  Lucian, 
the  moral  treatises  of  Plutarch,  the  annals  of  the  Chinese,  the 
Bible  of  the  Hebrews,  the  Edda  of  the  Scandinavians ;  go  among 
the  negroes  of  Africa,  or  the  learned  priests  of  India;1  they  will 
all  recapitulate  the  crimes  of  the  evil  deity ;  they  will  all  tell  you 
of  the  too  short  period  of  man's  felicity,  and  the  long  calamities 
which  followed  the  loss  of  his  innocence. 

Voltaire  somewhere  asserts  that  we  possess  a  most  wretched 
copy  of  the  different  popular  traditions  respecting  the  origin  of 
the  world,  and  the  physical  and  moral  elements  which  compose 
it.  Did  he  prefer,  then,  the  cosmogony  of  the  Egyptians,  the 
great  winged  egg  of  the  Theban  priests  ?3  Hear  what  is  related 
by  the  most  ancient  historian  after  Moses : — 

"The  principle  of  the  universe  was  a  gloomy  and  tempestuous 
atmosphere, — a  wind  produced  by  this  gloomy  atmosphere  and 
a  turbulent  chaos.  This  principle  was  unbounded,  and  for  a  long 
time  had  neither  limit  nor  form.  But  when  this  wind  became 
enamored  of  its  own  principles,  a  mixture  was  the  result,  and 
this  mixture  was  called  desire  or  love. 

1  See  note  F.  2  Herod.,  lib.  ii. ;  Diod.  Sic. 

107 


108  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

"This  mixture  being  complete  was  the  beginning  of  all  things; 
but  the  wind  knew  not  his  own  offspring,  the  mixture.  With  the 
wind,  her  father,  this  mixture  produced  mud,  and  hence  sprang 
all  the  generations  of  the  universe."1 

If  we  pass  to  the  Greek  philosophers,  we  find  Thales,  the  foun 
der  of  the  Ionic  sect,  asserting  water  to  be  the  universal  prin 
ciple.8  Plato  contended  that  the  Deity  had  arranged  the  world, 
but  had  not  had  the  power  to  create  it.3  God,  said  he,  formed 
the  universe,  after  the  model  existing  from  all  eternity  in  him 
self.4  Visible  objects  are  but  shadows  of  the  ideas  of  God,  which 
are  the  only  real  substances.6  God,  moreover,  infused  into  all 
beings  a  breath  of  his  life,  and  formed  of  them  a  third  principle, 
which  is  both  spirit  and  matter,  and  which  we  call  the  soul  of 
the  world.6 

Aristotle  reasoned  like  Plato  respecting  the  origin  of  the  uni 
verse  ;  but  he  conceived  the  beautiful  system  of  the  chain  of 
beings,  and,  ascending  from  action  to  action,  he  proved  that  there 
must  exist  somewhere  a  primary  principle  of  motion.7 

Zeno  maintained  that  the  world  was  arranged  by  its  own 
energy  ;  that  nature  is  the  system  which  embraces  all  things,  and 
consists  of  two  principles,  the  one  active,  the  other  passive,  not 
existing  separately,  but  in  combination ;  that  these  two  principles 
are  subject  to  a  third,  which  is  fatality;  that  God,  matter,  and 
fatality,  form  but  one  being;  that  they  compose  at  once  the 
wheels,  the  springs,  the  laws,  of  the  machine,  and  obey  as  parts 
the  laws  which  they  dictate  as  the  whole* 

According  to  the  philosophy  of  Epicurus,  the  universe  has  ex 
isted  from  all  eternity.  There  are  but  two  things  in  nature, — 
matter  and  space.9  Bodies  are  formed  by  the  aggregation  of  in 
finitely  minute  particles  of  matter  or  atoms,  which  have  an  inter 
nal  principle  of  motion,  that  is,  gravity.  Their  revolution  would 


1  Sanch.,  ap,  Eneeb.,  Prcepar.  Evany.,  lib.  i.  C.  10. 

2  Cic.,  de  Nat.  Deor.,  lib.  i.  n.  25. 

3  Tim.,  p.  28 ;  Diog.  Laert.,  lib.  iii. ;  Plut,  de  Gen.  Anim.,  p.  78. 

*  Plat.,  Tim.,  p.  29.  5  Id.,  Rep.,  lib.  vii.  6  Id.,  in  Tim.,  p.  34. 

7  Arist.,  de  Gen.  An.,  lib.  ii.  c.  3  ;  Met,  lib.  xi.  c.  5 ;    De  Ccel.,  lib.  xi.  c.  3. 
*•  Laert.,  lib.  v. ;  Stob.,  Eccl.  Phys.,  c.  xiv.  j  Senec.,  Coruol.,  c.  xxix. ;  Cie. 
Nat.  Deor.     Anton.,  lib.  vii. 
9  Lucret.,    ib.  ii. ;  Laert.,  lib.    x. 


SUPERIORITY  OF  THE  HISTORY  OF  MOSES.  109 


be  made  in  a  vertical  plane,  if  they  did  not,  in  consequence  of  a 
particular  law,  describe  an  ellipsis  in  the  regions  of  space.1 

Epicurus  invented  this  oblique  movement  for  the  purpose  of 
avoiding  the  system  of  the  fatalists,  which  would  be  reproduced 
by  the  perpendicular  motion  of  the  atom.  But  the  hypothesis  is 
absurd ;  for  if  the  declination  of  the  atom  is  a  law,  it  is  so  from 
necessity ;  and  how  can  a  necessitated  cause  produce  a  free  effect  ? 
But  to  proceed. 

From  the  fortuitous  concourse  of  these  atoms  originated  the 
heavens  and  the  earth,  the  planets  and  the  stars,  vegetables, 
minerals,  and  animals,  including  man ;  and  when  the  productive 
virtue  of  the  globe  was  exhausted,  the  living  races  were*  per 
petuated  by  means  of  generation.3  The  members  of  the  different 
animals,  formed  by  accident,  had  no  particular  destination.  The 
concave  ear  was  not  scooped  out  for  the  purpose  of  hearing,  nor 
was  the  convex  eye  rounded  in  order  to  see ;  but,  as  these  organs 
chanced  to  be  adapted  to  those  different  uses,  the  animals  em 
ployed  them  mechanically,  and  in  preference  to  the  other  senses.3 

After  this  statement  of  the  cosmogonies  of  the  philosophers, 
it  would  be  superfluous  to  notice  those  of  the  poets.  Who  hag 
not  heard  of  Deucalion  and  Pyrrha,  of  the  golden  and  of  the  iron 
ages  ?  As  to  the  traditions  current  among  other  nations  of  the 
earth,  we  will  simply  remark  that  in  the  East  Indies  an  elephant 
supports  the  globe ;  in  Peru,  the  sun  made  all  things ;  in  Canada, 
the  great  hare  is  the  father  of  the  world ;  in  Greenland,  man 
sprang  from  a  shell-fish;4  lastly,  Scandinavia  records  the  birth 
of  Askus  and  Emla :  Odin  gives  them  a  soul,  Haener  reason,  and 
Lsedur  blood  and  beauty.5 


'  Loc.  cit. 

*  Luc:et.,  lib.  v.  et  x. ;  Cic.,  de  Nat.  Dear.,  lib.  i.  c.  8,  9. 

3  Lucret.,  lib.  iv.,  v. 

4  See  Hesiod ;    Ovid ;    Hist,  of  Hindustan ;    Herrera,  Histor.    de  las  Ind. , 
Charlevoix,  Hist,  de  la  Nouv.  Fr. ;    P.   Lafitau,  Moeurs  des  Ind. ;    Travels  ic 
Greenland,  by  a  Missionary. 

5  Askum  et  Emlaui,  omni  conatu  destitutes, 
Aniinam  nee  possidebant,  rationem  nee  habebant, 
Nee  sanguinem  nee  sermonem,  nee  faciem  venustam : 
Animam  dedit  Odinus,  rationem  dedit  Hsenerus; 
Laedur  sanguinernaddiditetfaciein  venustam. 

BARTHOLIN,  Ant.  Dan. 

10 


110  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

In  these  various  cosmogonies  we  find  childish  tales  on  the  one 
hand  and  philosophical  abstractions  on  the  other;  and  were  wa 
obliged  to  choose  between  them,  it  would  be  better  to  adopt  the 
former. 

In  order  to  distinguish,  among  a  number  of  paintings,  the  ori 
ginal  from  the  copy,  we  must  look  for  that  which,  in  its  ensemble 
or  in  the  perfection  of  its  parts,  exhibits  the  genius  of  the  master. 
Now,  this  is  precisely  what  we  find  in  the  book  of  Genesis,  which 
is  the  original  of  the  representations  met  with  in  popular  tradi 
tions.  What  can  be  more  natural,  and  at  the  same  time  more 
magnificent, — what  more  easy  of  conception,  or  more  consonant 
with'  human  reason, — than  the  Creator  descending  into  the  realms 
of  ancient  night  and  producing  light  by  the  operation  of  a  word  ? 
The  sun,  in  an  instant,  takes  his  station  in  the  heavens,  in  the 
centre  of  an  immense  dome  of  azure ;  he  throws  his  invisible  net 
work  over  the  planets,  and  detains  them  about  him  as  his  cap 
tives  ;  the  seas  and  forests  commence  their  undulations  on  the 
globe,  and  their  voices  are  heard  for  the  first  time  proclaiming  to 
the  universe  that  marriage  in  which  God  himself  is  the  priest, 
the  earth  is  the  nuptial  couch,  and  mankind  is  the  progeny.1 


CHAPTER   II. 

THE    FALL   OP    MAN — THE    SERPENT A    HEBREW    WORD. 

WE  are  again  struck  with  astonishment  in  contemplating  that 
other  truth  announced  in  the  Scriptures: — man  dying  in  conse 
quence  of  having  poisoned  himself  from  the  tree  of  life  ! — man 
lost  for  having  tasted  the  fruit  of  knowledge,  for  having  learned 

1  The  Asiatic  Researches  cor.firm  the  truth  of  the  book  of  Genesis.  They 
divide  mythology  into  three  branches,  one  of  which  extended  throughout  In 
dia,  the  second  over  Greece,  and  the  third  among  the  savages  of  North  Ame 
rica.  They  also  show  that  this  same  mythology  was  derived  from  a  still  more 
ancient  tradition,  which  is  that  of  Moses.  Modern  travellers  in  India  every 
where  find  traces  of  the  facts  recorded  in  Scripture.  The  authenticity  of  these 
traditions,  after  having  been  long  contested,  has  now  ceased  to  be  a  matter  of 
doubt 


THE  FALL  OF  MAN.  HI 

too  much  of  good  and  evil,  for  having  ceased  to  resemble  the 
child  of  the  gospel !  If  we  suppose  any  other  prohibition  of  the 
Deity,  relative  to  any  propensity  of  the  soul  whatever,  where  is 
the  profound  wisdom  in  the  command  of  the  Most  High?  It 
would  seem  to  be  unworthy  of  the  Divinity,  and  no  moral  would 
result  from  the  disobedience  of  Adam.  But  observe  how  the 
whole  history  of  the  world  springs  from  the  law  imposed  on  our 
first  parents.  God  placed  knowledge  within  his  reach;  he  could 
not  refuse  it  him,  since  man  was  created  intelligent  and  free; 
but  he  cautioned  him  that  if  he  was  resolved  on  knowing  too 
much,  this  knowledge  would  result  in  the  death  of  himself  and 
of  hu  posterity.  The  secret  of  the  political  and  moral  existence 
of  nations,  and  the  profoundest  mysteries  of  the  human  heart,  are 
comprised  in  the  tradition  of  this  wonderful  and  fatal  tree. 

Now  let  us  contemplate  the  marvellous  consequence  of  this 
prohibition  of  infinite  wisdom.  Man  falls,  and  the  demon  of 
pride  occasions  his  fall.  But  pride  borrows  the  voice  of  love  to 
seduce  him,  and  it  is  for  the  sake  of  a  woman  that  Adam  aspires 
to  an  equality  with  God — a  profound  illustration  of  the  two  prin 
cipal  passions  of  the  heart,  vanity  and  love.  Bossuet,  in  his  Ele 
vations  to  God,  in  which  we  often  perceive  the  author  of  the 
Funeral  Orations,  observes,  in  treating  of  the  mystery  of  the 
serpent,  that  "the  angels  conversed  with  man  in  such  forms  as 
God  permitted,  and  under  the  figure  of  animals.  Eve  therefore 
was  not  surprised  to  hear  the  serpent  speak,  any  more  than  she 
was  to  see  God  himself  appear  under  a  sensible  form."  "  Why," 
adds  the  same  writer,  "did  God  cause  the  proud  spirit  to  appear 
in  that  form  in  preference  to  any  other?  Though  it  is  not  abso 
lutely  necessary  for  us  to  know  this,  yet  Scripture  intimates  the 
reason,  when  it  observes  that  the  serpent  was  the  most  subtle  of 
all  animals;  that  is  to  say,  the  one  which  most  aptly  represented 
Satan  in  his  malice,  his  artifices,  and  afterward  in  his  punish 
ment." 

The  present  age  rejects  with  disdain  whatever  savors  of  the 
marvellous;  but  the  serpent  has  frequently  been  the  subject 
of  our  observations,  and,  if  we  may  venture  to  say  it,  we  seem 
to  recognise  in  that  animal  the  pernicious  spirit  and  artful  malice 
which  are  ascribed  to  it  in  the  Scriptures.  Every  thing  is  mys 
terious,  secret,  astonishing,  in  this  incomprehensible  reptile.  His 


112  GENIUS    OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

movements  differ  from  those  of  all  other  animals.  It  is  impossi 
ble  to  say  where  his  locomotive  principle  lies,  for  he  has  neither 
fins,  nor  feet,  nor  wings;  and  yet  he  flits  like  a  shadow,  he  van 
ishes  as  by  magic,  he  reappears  and  is  gone  again,  like  a  light 
azure  vapor,  or  the  gleams  of  a  sabre  in  the  dark.  Now  he  curls 
himself  into  a  circle  and  projects  a  tongue  of  fire;  now,  standing 
erect  upon  the  extremity  of  his  tail,  he  moves  along  in  a  perpen 
dicular  attitude,  as  by  enchantment.  He  rolls  himself  into  a  ball, 
rises  and  falls  in  a  spiral  line,  gives  to  his  rings  the  undulations 
of  a  wave,  twines  round  the  branches  of  trees,  glides  under  the 
grass  of  the  meadow,  or  skims  along  the  surface  of  water.  His 
colors  are  not  more  determinate  than  his  movements.  They 
change  with  each  new  point  of  view,  and  like  his  motions,  they 
possess  the  false  splendor  and  deceitful  variety  of  the  seducer. 

Still  more  astonishing  in  other  respects,  he  knows,  like  the 
murderer,  how  to  throw  aside  his  garment  stained  with  blood,  lest 
it  should  lead  to  his  detection.  By  a  singular  faculty,  the  female 
can  introduce  into  her  body  the  little  monsters  to  which  she  has 
given  birth.1  The  serpent  passes  whole  months  in  sleep.  He 
frequents  tombs,  inhabits  secret  retreats,  produces  poisons  which 
chill,  burn,  or  checquer  the  body  of  his  victim  with  the  colors 
with  which  he  is  himself  marked.  In  one  place,  he  lifts  two 
menacing  heads;  in  another,  he  sounds  a  rattle.  He  hisses  like 
the  mountain  eagle,  or  bellows  like  a  bull.  He  naturally  enters 
into  the  moral  or  religious  ideas  of  men,  as  if  in  consequence 
of  the  influence  which  he  exercised  over  their  destiny.  An 
object  of  horror  or  adoration,  they  either  view  him  with  an  im 
placable  hatred,  or  bow  down  before  his  genius.  Falsehood  ap 
peals  to  him,  prudence  calls  him  to  her  aid,  envy  bears  him  in 
her  bosom,  and  eloquence  on  her  wand.  In  hell  he  arms  the 
scourges  of  the  furies;  in  heaven  eternity  is  typified  by  his  image. 


1  As  this  part  of  the  description  is  so  very  extraordinary,  it  nny  appear  to 
want  confirmation.  "Mr.  de  Beauvois,  as  related  in  the  Americar.  Philosophi 
cal  Transactions,  declared  himself  an  eye-witness  of  such  a  fact  as  is  above 
stated.  He  saw  a  large  rattlesnake,  which  he  had  disturbed  in  his  walks,  open 
her  jaws,  and  instantly  five  small  ones,  which  were  lying  by  her,  rushed  into  her 
mouth.  He  retired  and  watched  her,  and  in  a  quarter  of  an  hour  saw  her  again 
discharge  them.  The  common  viper  does  the  same."  See  Shaw's  General  Zo 
ology,  vol.  iii.  pp.  324,  374.  K. 


THE  FALL  OF  MAN.  113 

He  possesses,  moreover,  the  art  of  seducing  innocence.  His  eyes 
fascinate  the  birds  of  the  air,  and  beneath  the  fern  of  the  crib 
the  ewe  gives  up  to  him  her  milk.  But  he  may  himself  be 
charmed  by  the  harmony  of  sweet  sounds,  and  to  subdue  him  the 
shepherd  needs  no  other  weapon  than  his  pipe. 

In  the  month  of  July,  1791,  we  were  travelling  in  Upper 
Canada  with  several  families  of  savages  belonging  to  the  nation 
of  the  Onondagos.  One  day,  while  we  were  encamped  in  a  spa 
cious  plain  on  the  bank  of  the  Genesee  River,  we  saw  a  rattlesnake. 
There  was  a  Canadian  in  our  party  who  could  play  on  the  flute, 
and  to  divert  us  he  advanced  toward  the  serpent  with  his  new 
species  of  weapon.  On  the  approach  of  his  enemy,  the  haughty 
reptile  curls  himself  into  a  spiral  line,  flattens  his  head,  inflates 
his  cheeks,  contracts  his  lips,  displays  his  envenomed  fangs  and 
his  bloody  throat.  His  double  tongue  glows  like  two  flames  of 
fire;  his  eyes  are  burning  coals;  his  body,  swollen  with  rage, 
rises  and  falls  like  the  bellows  of  a  forge;  his  dilated  skin  as 
sumes  a  dull  and  scaly  appearance;  and  his  tail,  which  sends  forth 
an  ominous  sound,  vibrates  with  such  rapidity  as  to  resemble  a 
light  vapor. 

The  Canadian  now  begins  to  play  on  his  flute.  The  serpent 
starts  with  surprise  and  draws  back  his  head.  In  proportion  as 
he  is  struck  with  the  magic  sound,  his  eyes  lose  their  fierceness, 
the  oscillations  of  his  tail  diminish,  and  the  noise  which  it  emits 
grows  weaker,  and  gradually  dies  away.  The  spiral  folds  of  the 
charmed  serpent,  diverging  from  the  perpendicular,  expand,  and 
one  after  the  other  sink  to  the  ground  in  concentric  circles.  The 
tints  of  azure,  green,  white,  and  gold,  recover  their  brilliancy  on 
his  quivering  skin,  and,  slightly  turning  his  head,  he  remains  mo 
tionless  in  the  attitude  of  attention  and  pleasure. 

At  this  moment  the  Canadian  advanced  a  few  steps,  producing 
with  his  flute  sweet  and  simple  notes.  The  reptile  immediately 
lowers  his  variegated  neck,  opens  a  passage  with  his  head  through 
the  slender  grass,  and  begins  to  creep  after  the  musician,  halting 
when  he  halts,  and  again  following  him  when  he  resumes  his 
march.  In  this  way  he  was  led  beyond  the  limits  of  our  camp, 
attended  by  a  great  number  of  spectators,  both  savages  and 
Europeans,  who  could  scarcely  believe  their  eyes.  After  wit 
nessing  this  wonderful  effect  of  melody,  the  assembly  unani- 
10*  H 


114  GENIUS    OF    CHRISTIANITY. 

mously  decided  that  the  marvellous  serpent  should  be  permitted 
to  escape.1 

To  this  kind  of  inference,  drawn  from  the  habits  of  the  serpent 
in  favor  of  the  truths  of  Scripture,  we  shall  add  another,  deduced 
from  a  Hebrew  word.  Is  it  not  very  remarkable,  and  at  the 
same  time  extremely  philosophical,  that,  in  Hebrew,  the  generic 
term  for  man  should  signify  fever  or  pain?  The  root  of  Enosh, 
man,  is  the  verb  anash,  to  be  dangerously  ill.  This  appellation 
was  not  given  to  our  first  parent  by  the  Almighty :  he  called  him 
gimply  Adam,  red  earth  or  slime.  It  was  not  till  after  the  fall 
that  Adam's  posterity  assumed  the  name  of  Enosh,  or  man,  which 
was  so  perfectly  adapted  to  his  afflictions,  and  most  eloquently 
reminded  him  both  of  his  guilt  and  its  punishment.  Perhaps 
Adam,  when  he  witnessed  the  pangs  of  his  wife,  and  took  into  his 
arms  Cain,  his  first-born  son,  lifting  him  toward  heaven,  exclaimed, 
in  the  acuteness  of  his  feelings,  Enosh,  Oh,  anguish !  a  doleful 
exclamation  that  may  have  led  afterward  to  the  designation  of 
the  human  race. 


CHAPTER  III. 

PRIMITIVE   CONSTITUTION   OF   MAN — NEW   PROOF   OF 
ORIGINAL  SIN. 

WE  indicated  certain  moral  evidences  of  original  sin  in  treat 
ing  of  baptism  and  the  redemption ;  but  a  matter  of  such  import 
ance  deserves  more  than  a  passing  notice.  "The  knot  of  our 
condition,"  says  Pascal,  "has  its  twists  and  folds  in  this  abyss, 

1  In  India  the  Cobra  de  Capello,  or  hooded  snake,  is  carried  about  as  a  show 
in  a  basket,  and  so  managed  as  to  exhibit  when  shown  a  kind  of  dancing  mo 
tion,  raising  itself  up  on  its  lower  part,  and  alternately  moving  its  head  and 
body  from  side  to  side  to  the  sound  of  some  musical  instrument  which  is  played 
during  the  time.  Shatv's  Zooloyy,  vol.  iii.  p.  411. 

The  serpentcs,  the  most  formidable  of  reptiles,  as  they  make  a  most  distin 
guishecl  figure  in  natural  history,  so  they  are  frequently  the  subject  of  descrip 
tion  with  naturalists  and  poets.  But  it  would  be  difficult  to  find,  either  iti 
Buifon  or  Shaw,  in  Virgil,  or  even  in  Lucan,  who  is  enamored  of  the  subject, 
any  thing  superior  to  this  vivid  picture  of  our  author.  K. 


PRIMITIVE  CONSTITUTION  OF  MAN.  115 


so  that  man  is  more  inconceivable  without  this  mystery  than  this 
mystery  is  inconceivable  to  man."1 

It  appears  to  us  that  the  order  of  the  universe  furnishes  a  new 
proof  of  our  primitive  degeneracy.  If  we  survey  the  world  around 
us  we  shall  remark  that,  by  a  general,  and  at  the  same  time  a  par 
ticular  law,  all  the  integral  parts,  all  the  springs  of  action,  whether 
internal  or  external,  all  the  qualities  of  beings,  have  a  perfect  con 
formity  with  one  another.  Thus  the  heavenly  bodies  accomplish 
their  revolutions  in  an  admirable  unity,  and  each  body,  steadily 
pursuing  its  course,  describes  the  orbit  peculiar  to  itself.  One 
single  globe  imparts  light  and  heat.  These  two  qualities  are  not 
divided  between  two  spheres;  the  sun  combines  them  in  his  orb 
as  God,  whose  image  he  is,  unites  the  fertilizing  principle  with 
the  principle  which  illumines. 

The  same  law  obtains  among  animals.  Their  ideas,  if  we  may 
be  allowed  the  expression,  invariably  accord  with  their  feelings, 
their  reason  with  their  passions.  Hence  it  is  that  they  are  not 
susceptible  of  any  increase  or  diminution  of  intelligence.  The 
reader  may  easily  pursue  this  law  of  conformities  in  the  vegeta 
ble  and  mineral  kingdoms. 

By  what  incomprehensible  destiny  does  man  alone  form  an  ex 
ception  to  this  law,  so  necessary  for  the  order,  the  preservation, 
the  peace  and  the  welfare,  of  beings  ?  As  obvious  as  this  har 
mony  of  qualities  and  movements  appears  in  the  rest  of  nature, 
so  striking  is  their  discordance  in  man.  There  is  a  perpetual 
collision  between  his  understanding  and  his  will,  between  his 
reason  and  his  heart.  When  he  attains  the  highest  degree  of 
civilization,  he  is  at  the  lowest  point  in  the  scale  of  morality; 
when  free,  he  is  barbarous ;  when  refined,  he  is  bound  with  fet 
ters.  Does  he  excel  in  the  sciences  ?  his  imagination  expires. 
Does  he  become  a  poet  ?  he  loses  the  faculty  of  profound  thought. 
His  heart  gains  at  the  expense  of  his  head,  and  his  head  at  the 
expense  of  his  heart.  He  is  impoverished  in  ideas  in  proportion 
as  he  abounds  in  feeling;  his  feelings  become  more  confined  in 
proportion  as  his  ideas  are  enlarged.  Strength  renders  him  cold 
and  harsh,  while  weakness  makes  him  kind  and  gracious.  A 
virtue  invariably  brings  him  a  vice  along  with  it ;  and  a  vice, 

1  Pascal's  Thoughts,  chap.  iii. 


116  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


when  it  leaves  him,  as  invariably  deprives  him  of  a  virtue.  Na 
tions,  collectively  considered,  exhibit  the  like  vicissitudes ;  they 
alternately  lose  and  recover  the  light  of  wisdom.  It  might  be 
said  that  the  Genius  of  man,  with  a  torch  in  his  hand,  is  inces 
santly  flying  around  the  globe,  amid  the  night  that  envelops  us, 
appearing  to  the  four  quarters  of  the  world  like  the  nocturnal 
luminary,  which,  continually  on  the  increase  and  the  wane,  at 
each  step  diminishes  for  one  country  the  resplendence  which  she 
augments  for  another. 

It  is,  therefore,  highly  reasonable  to  suppose  that  man,  in  his 
primitive  constitution,  resembled  the  rest  of  the  creation,  and 
that  this  constitution  consisted  in  the  perfect  harmony  of  the 
feelings  and  the  faculty  of  thought,  of  the  imagination  and  the 
understanding.  Of  this  we  shall  perhaps  be  convinced,  if  we 
observe  that  this  union  is  still  necessary  in  order  to  enjoy  even 
a  shadow  of  that  felicity  which  we  have  lost.  Thus  we  are 
furnished  with  a  clue  to  original  sin  by  the  mere  chain  of  reason 
ing  and  the  probabilities  of  analogy;  since  man,  in  the  state  in 
which  we  behold  him,  is  not,  we  may  presume,  the  primitive 
man.  He  stands  in  contradiction  to  nature ;  disorderly  when  all 
things  else  are  regular;  with  a  double  character  when  every  thing 
around  him  is  simple.  Mysterious,  variable,  inexplicable,  he  is 
manifestly  in  the  state  of  a  being  which  some  accident  has  over 
thrown  :  he  is  a  palace  that  has  crumbled  to  pieces,  and  been 
rebuilt  with  its  ruins,  where  you  behold  some  parts  of  an  imposing 
appearance  and  others  extremely  offensive  to  the  eye ;  magnificent 
colonnades  which  lead  to  nothing;  lofty  porticos  and  low  ceil 
ings  ;  strong  lights  and  deep  shades ;  in  a  word,  confusion  and 
disorder  pervading  every  quarter,  and  especially  the  sanctuary. 

Now,  if  the  primitive  constitution  of  man  consisted  in  accord 
ances  such  as  we  find  established  among  other  beings,  nothing 
more  was  necessary  for  the  destruction  of  this  order,  or  any  such 
harmony  in  general,  than  to  alter  the  equilibrium  of  the  forces  or 
qualities.  In  man  this  precious  equilibrium  was  formed  by  the 
faculties  of  love  and  thought.  Adam  was  at  the  same  time  the 
most  enlightened  and  the  best  of  men ;  the  most  powerful  in 
thought  and  the  most  powerful  in  love.  But  whatever  has  been 
created  must  necessarily  have  a  progressive  course.  Instead  of 
waiting  for  new  attainments  in  knowledge  to  be  derived  from  the 


PRIMITIVE   CONSTITUTION   OF   MAN.  117 

revolution  of  ages,  and  to  be  accompanied  by  an  accession  of  new 
feelings,  Adam  wanted  to  know  every  thing  at  once.  Observe, 
too,  what  is  very  important :  man  had  it  in  his  power  to  destroy 
the  harmony  of  his  being  in  two  ways,  either  by  wanting  to  love 
too  much,  or  to  know  too  much.  He  transgressed  in  the  second 
way;  for  we  are,  in  fact,  far  more  deeply  tinctured  with  the  pride 
of  science  than  with  the  pride  of  love;  the  latter  would  have 
deserved  pity  rather  than  punishment,  and  if  Adam  had  been 
guilty  of  desiring  to  feel  rather  than  to  know  too  much,  man 
himself  might,  perhaps,  have  been  able  to  expiate  his  transgres 
sion,  and  the  Son  of  God  would  not  have  been  obliged  to  under 
take  so  painful  a  sacrifice.  But  the  case  was  different.  Adam 
sought  to  embrace  the  universe,  not  with  the  sentiments  of  his 
heart,  but  with  the  power  of  thought,  and,  advancing  to  the  tree 
of  knowledge,  he  admitted  into  his  mind  a  ray  of  light  that  over 
powered  it.  The  equilibrium  was  instantaneously  destroyed,  and 
confusion  took  possession  of  man.  Instead  of  that  illumination 
which  he  had  promised  himself,  a  thick  darkness  overcast  his 
sight,  and  his  guilt,  like  a  veil,  spread  out  between  him  and  the 
universe.  His  whole  soul  was  agitated  and  in  commotion ;  the 
passions  rose  up  against  the  judgment,  the  judgment  strove  to 
annihilate  the  passions,  and  in  this  terrible  storm  the  rock  of 
death  witnessed  with  joy  the  first  of  shipwrecks. 

Such  was  the  accident  that  changed  the  harmonious  and  im 
mortal  constitution  of  man.  From  that  day  all  the  elements  of 
his  teing  have  been  scattered,  and  unable  to  come  together  again. 
The  habit — we  might  almost  say  the  love  of  the  tomb — which 
matter  has  contracted  destroys  every  plan  of  restoration  in  this 
world,  because  our  lives  are  not  long  enough  to  confer  success 
upon  any  efforts  we  could  make  to  reach  primeval  perfection.1 

1  It  is  in  this  point  that  the  system  of  perfectibility  is  totally  defective.  Its 
supporters  do  not  perceive  that,  if  the  mind  were  continually  making  new  ac 
quisitions  in  knowledge,  and  the  heart  in  sentiment  or  the  moral  virtues,  man, 
in  a  given  time,  regaining  the  point  whence  he  set  out,  would  be,  of  necessity, 
immortal;  for,  every  principle  of  division  being  done  away  in  him,  every  prin 
ciple  of  death  would  likewise  cease.  The  longevity  of  the  patriarchs,  and  the 
gift  of  prophecy  among  the  Hebrews,*  must  be  ascribed  to  a  restoration,  more 
or  less  complete,  of  the  equilibrium  of  human  nature.  Materialists  therefore 


*  That  is,  the  natural  faculty  of  predicting.    T. 


GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


But  how  could  the  world  have  contained  so  many  generations 
if  they  had  not  been  subject  to  death  ?  This  is  a  mere  affair  of 
imagination.  Are  not  the  means  in  the  hands  of  God  infinite  ? 
Who  knows  if  men  would  have  multiplied  to  that  extent  which 
we  witness  at  the  present  day?  Who  knows  whether  the  greater 
number  of  generations  would  not  have  remained  in  a  virgin  state,1 
or  whether  those  millions  of  orbs  which  revolve  over  our  heads 
were  not  reserved  for  us  as  delicious  retreats,  to  which  we  would 
have  been  conveyed  by  attendant  angels  ?  To  go  still  farther  :  it 
is  impossible  to  calculate  the  height  to  which  the  arts  and  sciences 
might  have  been  carried  by  man  in  a  state  of  perfection  and 
living  forever  upon  the  earth.  If  at  an  early  period  he  made 
himself  master  of  the  three  elements,  —  if,  in  spite  of  the  greatest 
difficulties,  he  now  disputes  with  the  birds  the  empire  of  the  air,  — 
what  would  he  not  have  attempted  in  his  immortal  career  ?  The 
nature  of  the  atmosphere,  which  at  present  forms  an  invincible 
obstacle  to  a  change  of  planet,  was,  perhaps,  different  before  the 
deluge.  Be  this  as  it  may,  it  is  not  unworthy  the  power  of  God 
and  the  greatness  of  man  to  suppose,  that  the  race  of  Adam  was 
destined  to  traverse  the  regions  of  space,  and  to  people  all  those 
suns  which,  deprived  of  their  inhabitants  by  sin,  have  since  been 
nothing  more  than  resplendent  deserts. 

who  support  the  system  of  perfectibility  are  inconsistent  with  themselves,  since, 
in  fact,  this  doctrine,  so  far  from  being  that  of  materialism,  leads  to  the  most 
mystical  spirituality. 

i  Such  was  the  opinion  of  St  John  Chrysostom.  He  supposes  that  God 
would  have  furnished  a  means  of  generation  which  is  unknown  to  us.  There 
stand,  he  says,  before  the  throne  of  God,  a  multitude  of  angels  who  were  born 
not  by  human  agency.  —  De  Virgin,,  lib  ii. 


BOOK    IV. 

CONTINUATION  OF  THE  TRUTHS  OF  SCRIPTURE— OBJEC 
TIONS   AGAINST  THE  SYSTEM  OF  MOSES. 

CHAPTER   I. 

CHRONOLOGY. 

SOME  learned  men  having  inferred  from  the  history  of  man  or 
that  of  the  earth  that  the  world  is  of  higher  antiquity  than  that 
ascribed  to  it  in  the  Mosaic  account,  we  have  frequent  quotations 
from  Sanchoniatho,  Porphyry,  the  Sanscrit  books,  and  other 
sources,  in  support  of  this  opinion.  But  have  they  who  lay  so 
much  stress  on  these  authorities  always  consulted  them  in  their 
originals  ? 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  rather  presumptuous  to  intimate  that 
Origen,  Eusebius,  Bossuet,  Pascal,  Tension,  Bacon,  Newton, 
Leibnitz,  Huet,  and  many  others,  were  either  ignorant  or  weak 
men,  or  wrote  in  opposition  to  their  real  sentiments.  They  be 
lieved  in  the  truth  of  the  Mosaic  history,  and  it  cannot  be  denied 
that  these  men  possessed  learning  in  comparison  with  which  our 
imperfect  erudition  makes  a  very  insignificant  figure. 

But  to  begin  with  chronology :  our  modern  scholars  have  made 
a  mere  sport  of  removing  the  insurmountable  difficulties  which 
confounded  a  Scaliger,  a  Petau,  an  Usher,  a  Grotius.  They 
would  laugh  at  our  ignorance  were  we  to  inquire  when  the  Olym 
piads  commenced  ?  how  they  agree  with  the  modes  of  compu 
tation  by  archons,  by  ephori,  by  ediles,  by  consuls,  by  reigns,  by 
Pythian,  Nemaean,  and  secular  games  ?  how  all  the  calendars  of 
nations  harmonize  together  ?  in  what  manner  we  must  proceed  to 
make  the  ancient  year  of  Romulus,  consisting  of  ten  months  or 
354  days,  accord  with  Numa's  year  of  355,  or  the  Julian  year  of 
365  ?  by  what  means  we  shall  avoid  errors  in  referring  these  same 

119 


120  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


years  to  the  common  Attic  year  of  354  days,  and  to  the  embolis- 
mic  year  of  384  ?* 

These,  however,  are  not  the  only  perplexities  in  respect  to 
years.  The  ancient  Jewish  yeai  had  but  354  days ;  sometimes 
twelve  days  were  added  at  the  ei  d  of  the  year,  and  sometimes  a 
month  of  thirty  days  was  introduced  after  the  month  Adar,  to 
form  a  solar  year.  The  modern  Jewish  year  counts  twelve 
months,  and  takes  seven  years  of  thirteen  months  in  the  space  of 
nineteen  years.  The  Syriac  year  also  varies,  and  consists  of  365 
days.  The  Turkish  or  Arabic  year  has  354  days,  and  admits 
eleven  intercalary  months  in  twenty-nine  years.  The  Egyptian 
year  is  divided  into  twelve  months  of  thirty  days,  five  days  being 
added  to  the  last.  The  Persian  year,  called  Yezdegerdic,  has  a 
similar  computation.9 

Besides  these  various  methods  of  counting  time,  all  these  years 
have  neither  the  same  beginning,  nor  the  same  hours,  nor  the 
same  days,  nor  the  same  divisions.  The  civil  year  of  the  Jews 
(like  all  those  of  the  Orientals)  commences  with  the  new  moon 
of  September,  and  their  ecclesiastical  year  with  the  new  moon  of 
March.  The  Greeks  reckon  the  first  month  of  their  year  from 
the  new  moon  following  the  summer  solstice.  The  first  month 
of  the  Persian  year  corresponds  with  our  June ;  and  the  Chinese 
and  Indians  begin  theirs  from  the  first  moon  in  March.  We  find, 
moreover,  astronomical  and  civil  months,  which  are  subdivided 
into  lunar  and  solar,  into  synodical  and  periodical;  we  have 
months  distributed  into  kalends,  ides,  decades,  weeks;  we  find 
days  of  two  kinds,  artificial  and  natural,  and  commencing,  the 
latter  at  sunrise,  as  among  the  ancient  Babylonians,  Syrians,  and 
Persians,  the  former  at  sunset,  as  in  China,  in  modern  Italy,  and 
of  old  among  the  Athenians,  the  Jews,  and  the  barbarians  of  the 
north.  The  Arabs  begin  their  days  at  noon  ;  the  French,  the  Eng 
lish,  the  Germans,  the  Spaniards,  and  the  Portuguese,  at  midnight. 

1  Embolismic  means  intercalary,  or  inserted.     As  the  Greeks  reckoned  time 
by  the  lunar  year  of  354  days,  in  order  to  bring  it  to  the  solar  year  they  added 
a  thirteenth  lunar  month  every  two  or  three  years. 

2  The  other  Persian  year,  called  Gdalean,  which  commenced  in  the  year  of 
the  world  1089,  is  the  most  exact  of  civil  years,  as  it  makes  the  solstices  and 
the  equinoxes  fall  precisely  on  the  same  days.     It  is  formed  by  means  of  an 
intercalation  repeated  six  or  seven  times  in  four,  and  afterward  once  in  five, 
years. 


CHRONOLOGY.  121 


Lastly,  the  very  hours  are  not  without  their  perplexities  in  chro 
nology,  being  divided  into  Babylonian,  Italian,  and  astronomical; 
and  were  we  to  be  still  more  particular,  we  should  no  longer 
reckon  sixty  minutes  in  a  European  hour,  but  one  thousand  and 
eighty  scruples  in  that  of  Chaldaea  and  Arabia. 

Chronology  has  been  termed  the  torch  of  history;1  would  to 
God  we  had  no  other  to  throw  a  light  upon  the  crimes  of  men  ! 
But  what  would  be  our  embarrassment  if,  in  pursuing  this  sub 
ject,  we  entered  upon  the  different  periods,  eras,  or  epochs  ! 
The  Victorian  period,  which  embraces  532  years,  is  formed  by 
the  multiplication  of  the  solar  and  lunar  cycles.  The  same  cycles, 
multiplied  by  that  of  the  indiction,  produce  the  7980  years  of 
the  Julian  period.  The  period  of  Constantinople  comprehends 
an  equal  number  of  years  with  the  Julian  period,  but  does  not 
begin  at  the  sam«  epoch.  As  to  eras,  they  reckon  in  some  places 
by  the  year  of  the  crtation,3  in  others  by  olympiads,3  by  the 
foundation  of  Rome,4  by  the  birth  of  Christ,  by  the  epoch  of 
Eusebius,  by  that  of  the  Seleucidae,5  of  Nabonassar,6  of  the  Mar 
tyrs.7  The  Turks  have  their  hegira,8  the  Persians  their  yezde- 
gerdic.9  The  Julian,  Gregorian,  Iberian,10  and  Actian11  eras,  are 
also  employed  in  computation.  We  shall  say  nothing  concerning 
the  Arundelian  marbles,  the  medals  and  monuments  of  all  sorts, 
which  create  additional  confusion  in  chronology.  Is  there  any 
candid  person  who  will  deny,  after  glancing  at  these  pages,  that 
so  many  arbitrary  modes  of  calculating  time  are  sufficient  to  make 
of  history  a  frightful  chaos  ?  The  annals  of  the  Jews,  by  the 
confession  of  scientific  men  themselves,  are  the  only  ones  whose 

I  See  note  G. 

*  This  epoch  is  subdivided  into  the  Greek,  Jewish,  Alexandrian,  <fec. 

3  The  Greek  historians. 

4  The  Latin  historians. 

5  Followed  by  Josephus,  the  historian. 

6  Followed  by  Ptolemy  and  some  others. 

7  Followed   by  the   first  Christians  till    532,  and  in  modern  times  by  the 
Christians  of  Abyssinia  and  Egypt. 

8  The  Orientals  do  not  place  it  as  we  do. 

9  Thus  named  after  a  king  of  Persia  who  fell  in  a  battle  with  the  Saracens. 
in  the  year  632  of  our  era. 

10  Followed  in  the  councils  and  on  the  ancient  monuments  of  Spain. 

II  Received  its  name  from  the  battle  of  Actium,  and  was  adopted  by  Ptolemy, 
Josephus,  Eusebius,  and  Censorius. 

" 


122  fiENIUS    OF   mil  1ST  I A  NIT  Y. 


chronology  is  simple,  regular,  and  luminous.  Why.  then,  im 
pelled  by  an  ardent  y.eal  for  impiety,  should  we  puzzle  ourselves 
with  questions  of  computation  as  dry  as  they  are  inexplicable, 
when  we  possess  the  surest  clue  to  guide  us  in  history?  This  is 
a  new  evidence  in  favor  of  the  holy  Scriptures.1 


CHAPTER  II. 

LOGOGRAPHY    AND    HISTORICAL    FACTS. 

ATTER  the  chronological  objections  against  the  Bible,  come  those 
which  some  writers  have  pretended  to  deduce  from  historical 
facts  themselves.  They  inform  us  of  a  tradition  among  the 
priests  of  Thebes,  which  supposed  the  kingdom  of  Egypt  to  have 
existed  eighteen  thousand  years  j  and  they  cite  the  list  of  its 
dynasties,  which  is  still  extant. 

Plutarch,  who  cannot  be  suspected  of  Christianity,  will  furnish 
us  with  part  of  the  reply  to  this  objection.  "  Though  their  year," 
Bays  he,  speaking  of  the  Egyptians,  "comprehended  four  months, 
according  to  some  authors,  yet  at  first  it  consisted  of  only  one, 
and  contained  no  more  than  the  course  of  a  single  moon.  In  this 
way,  making  a  year  of  a  single  month,  the  period  which  has 
elapsed  from  their  origin  appears  extremely  long,  and  they  are 
reputed  to  be  the  most  ancient  people,  though  they  settled  in 
their  country  at  a  late  period."8  We  learn,  moreover,  from  Hero 
dotus,3  Diodorus  Siculus,4  Justin,5  Strabo,6  and  Jablonsky,7  that 

1  Sir  Isaac  Newton  applied  the  principles  of  astronomy  to  rectify  the  errors 
of  chronology.     He  ascertained  that  the  computations  of  time   in  the  Old  Tes 
tament  coincided  exactly  with  the  revolutions  of  the  heavenly  bodies.     By  the 
aid  of  astronomy  he  corrected  the  whole  disordered  state  of  computing  time 
in  the  profane  writers,  and  confirmed  the  accuracy  and  truth  of  the  Scripture 
chronology.     Neither  Cardinal  Baronius,  in  his  annals,  nor  Petavius,  nor  S< -:t- 
liger,  in  his  emendations  of  Eusehius,  great  as  were  their  lab  «•  and  diligence, 
have  found  their  way  so  well  through  the  labyrinths  of  chronology,  or  si-ulcd 
its  disputable  and  intricate  points  more  satisfactorily  in  their  bulky  folios,  than 
our  author  has  done  in  the  compass  of  this  short  chapter.     K. 

2  Plut,  in  Num.     3  Herodot,  lib.  ii.         4  Diod.,  lib.  i. 

6  Just.,  lib.  i.          6  Strab.,  lib.  xvii.         7  Jablonsk     P'tnth.  Eyypt.,  lib.  it. 

t 


LOGOGRAPHY  AND  HISTORICAL  FACTS.  123 


the  Egyptians  find  a  pretended  glory  in  referring  their  origin  to 
the  remotest  antiquity,  and,  as  it  were,  concealing  their  birth  in 
the  obscurity  of  ages. 

The  number  of  their  reigns  can  scarcely  be  a  source  of  diffi 
culty.  It  is  well  known  that  the  Egyptian  dynasties  are  com 
posed  of  contemporary  sovereigns  j  besides,  the  same  word  in  the 
Oriental  languages  may  be  read  in  five  or  six  different  ways,  and 
our  ignorance  has  often  made  five  or  six  persons  out  of  one  indi 
vidual.1  The  same  thing  has  happened  in  regard  to  the  transla 
tion  rf  a  single  name.  The  Athoth  of  the  Egyptians  is  trans 
lated  in  Eratosthenes  by  Eppoyevr^,  which  signifies,  in  Greek,  the 
learned,  as  Athoth  expresses  the  same  thing  in  Coptic  :  but  his 
torians  have  not  failed  to  make  two  kings  of  Athoth  arid  Hermes 
or  Hermofjenes.  But  the  Athoth  of  Manetho  is  again  multiplied : 
in  Plato,  he  is  transformed  into  Thoth,  and  the  text  of  Sancho- 
niatho  proves  in  fact  that  this  is  the  primitive  name,  the  letter 
A  being  one  of  those  which  are  retrenched  or  added  at  pleasure 
in  the  Oriental  languages.  Thus  the  name  of  the  man  whom 
Africanus  calls  Pachnas,  is  rendered  by  Josephus  Apachnas. 
Here,  then,  we  have  Thoth,  Athoth,  Hermes,  or  Hermogenes,  or 
Mercury,  five  celebrated  men,  who  occupy  together  nearly  two 
centuries ;  and  yet  these  Jive  kings  were  but  one  single  Egyptian, 
who  perhaps  did  not  live  sixty  years.2 

'  For  instance,  the  monogram  of  Fo-hi,  a  Chinese  divinity,  is  precisely  the 
same  as  that  of  Mencs,  a  divinity  of  Egypt.  Moreover,  it  is  well  ascertained, 
that  the  Oriental  characters  are  only  general  signs  of  ideas,  which  each  one 
renders  in  his  peculiar  language,  as  he  would  the  Arabic  figures.  Thus,  the 
Italian  calls  duodecimo  what  the  Englishman  would  express  by  the  word  twelve, 
and  the  Frenchman  by  the  word  douze. 

2  Some  persons,  perhaps  in  other  respects  enlightened,  have  accused  the  Jews 
of  having  adulterated  the  names  of  history  ;  but  they  should  have'known  that 
it  was  the  Greeks,  and  not  the  Jews,  who  were  guilty  of  this  alteration,  espe 
cially  in  regard  to  Oriental  names.  See  Boch.,  Geog.  Sacr.,  &c.  Even  at  the 
present  day,  in  the  East,  Tyre  is  called  Astir,  from  Tour  or  Sur.  The  Athe 
nians  themselves  would  have  pronounced  it  Titr  or  Tour ;  for  the  y  in  modern 
language  is  epsiloii,  or  small  u  of  the  Greeks.  In  the  same  way,  Darius  may 
be  derived  from  Assuerus.  Dropping  the  initial  A,  according  to  a  preceding 
remark,  we  have  Suerus.  But  the  delta,  or  capital  D  in  Greek,  is  much  like 
the  8'imech,  or  capital  S  in  Hebrew,  and  the  latter  was  thus  changed  among  the 
Greeks  into  the  former.  By  an  error  in  pronunciation,  the  change  was  more 
easily  effected :  for,  as  a  Frenchman  would  pronounce  the  English  th  like  2  or 
d»,  or  t,  so  the  Greek,  having  no  letter  like  the  Hebrew  S,  was  inclined  to  pro- 


124  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

What  necessity  is  there,  after  all,  to  lay  so -much  stress  on  logo- 
graphica.  disputes,  when  we  need  but  open  the  volumes  of  his 
tory  to  convince  ourselves  of  the  modern  origin  of  men  ?  In 
vain  shall  we  combine  with  imaginary  ages,  or  conjure  up  ficti 
tious  shades  of  death  ;  all  this  will  not  prevent  mankind  from 
being  but  a  creature  of  yesterday.  The  names  of  those  who  in 
vented  the  arts  are  as  familiar  to  us  as  those  of  a  brother  or  a 
grandfather.  It  was  Hypsuranius  who  built  huts  of  reeds,  the 
habitations  of  primeval  innocence;  Usoiis  first  clothed  himself 
with  the  skins  of  beasts,  and  braved  the  billows  on  the  trunk  of 
a  tree;1  Tubalcain  taught  men  the  uses  of  iron;8  Noah  or  Bac 
chus  planted  the  vine ;  Cain  or  Triptolemus  fashioned  the  plough ; 
Agrotes3  or  Ceres  reaped  the  first  harvest.  History,  medicine, 
geometry,  the  fine  arts,  and  laws,  are  not  of  higher  antiquity;  and 
we  are  indebted  for  them  to  Herodotus,  Hippocrates,  Thales, 
Homer,  Daedalus,  and  Minos.  As  to  the  origin  of  kings  and 
cities,  their  history  has  been  transmitted  to  us  by  Moses,  Plato, 
Justin,  and  some  others,  and  we  know  when  and  why  the  various 
forms  of  government  were  established  among  different  nations.4 

If  we  are  astonished  to  find  such  grandeur  and  magnificence 
in  the  early  cities  of  Asia,  this  difficulty  is  easily  removed  by  an 
observation  founded  on  the  genius  of  the  Eastern  nations.  In 
all  ages,  it  has  been  the  custom  of  these  nations  to  build  immense 
cities,  which,  however,  afford  no  evidence  respecting  their  civil 
ization,  and  consequently  their  antiquity.  The  Arabs,  who  tra 
vel  over  burning  sands,  where  they  are  quite  satisfied  to  enjoy  a 
little  shade  under  a  tent  of  sheepskins,  have  erected  almost  under 
our  eyes  gigantic  cities,  which  these  citizens  of  the  desert  seem 
to  have  designed  as  the  enclosures  of  solitude.  The  Chinese, 
also,  who  have  made  so  little  progress  in  the  arts,  have  the, most 

nounce  it  as  their  D,  as  the  Samech  in  Hebrew  has  in  fact  something  of  this 
sound,  according  to  the  Masoretic  points.  Hence  Dueru*  for  Suerus,  and  by  a 
slight  change  of  vowels,  which  are  not  important  in  etymology,  we  have  Do- 
'•ius.  They  who  wish  to  jest  at  the  expense  of  religion,  morals,  the  peace  of 
nations,  or  the  general  happiness  of  mankind,  should  first  be  well  assured  that 
they  .will  not  incur,  in  the  attempt,  the  charge  of  pitiful  ignorance. 

1  Sanch.,  ap.  Eus.,  Prceparat.  Evang.,  lib.  i.  c.  10. 

'  Gen.,  iv.  3  Sanch.,  loc,  cit. 

4  See  Pentat.  of  Moses ;  Plat.,  de  Leg.  et  Tim. ;  Just.,  lib.  ii.,  Herod  ;  Plut, 
in  Thcs.,  Num.,  Lycurg.,  Sol.,  Ac. 


LOGOGRAPHY  AND  HISTORICAL  FACTS.  125 

extensive  cities  on  the  face  of  the  globe,  with  walls,  gardens, 
palaces,  lakes,  and  artificial  canals,  like  those  of  ancient  Babylon.1 
Finally,  are  we  not  ourselves  a  striking  instance  of  the  rapidity 
with  which  nations  become  civilized  ?  Scarcely  twelve  centuries 
ago  our  ancestors  were  as  barbarous  as  the  Hottentots,  and  now 
we  surpass  Greece  in  all  the  refinements  of  taste,  luxury,  and  the 
arts. 

The  general  logic  of  languages  cannot  furnish  any  valid  argu 
ment  in  favor  of  the  antiquity  of  mankind.  The  idioms  of  the 
primitive  East,  far  from  indicating  a  very  ancient  state  of  society, 
exhibit  on  the  contrary  a  close  proximity  to  that  of  nature.  Their 
mechanism  is  simple  in  the  highest  degree ;  hyperbole,  meta 
phor,  all  the  poetic  figures,  incessantly  recur ;  but  you  will  find  in 
them  scarcely  any  words  for  the  expression  of  metaphysical  ideas. 
It  would  be  impossible  to  convey  with  perspicuity  in  the  Hebrew 
language  the  theology  of  the  Christian  doctrine.3  Among  the 
Greeks  and  the  modern  Arabs  alone  we  meet  with  compound 
terms  capable  of  expressing  the  abstractions  of  thought.  Every 
body  knows  that  Aristotle  was  the  first  philosopher  who  invented 
categories,  in  which  ideas  are  placed  together  by  a  forced  ar 
rangement,  of  whatever  class  or  nature  they  may  be.3 

Lastly,  it  is  asserted  that,  before  the  Egyptians  had  erected 
those  temples  of  which  such  beautiful  ruins  yet  remain,  the  peo 
ple  already  tended  their  flocks  amid  ruins  left  by  some  unknown 
nation  :  a  circumstance  which  would  presuppose  a  very  high 
antiquity. 

To  decide  this  question,  it  is  necessary  to  ascertain  precisely 

i  See  Fath.  du  Hald.,  Hist,  de  la  Ch.  j  Lettr.  Edif. ;  Macartney's  Emb.  to 
China,  Ac. 

a  This  may  be  easily  ascertained  by  reading  the  Fathers  who  have  written  in 
Syriac,  as  St.  Ephrem,  deacon  of  Edessa. 

3  If  languages  require  so  much  time  for  their  complete  formation,  why  have 
the  savages  of  Canada  such  subtle  and  such  complicated  dialects  ?  The  verbs 
of  the  Huron  language  have  all  the  inflexions  of  the  Greek  verbs.  Like  the 
latter,  they  distinguish  by  the  characteristic,  the  augment,  Ac.  They  have 
three  modes,  three  genders,  three  numbers,  and,  moreover,  a  certain  derange 
ment  of  letters  peculiar  to  the  verbs  of  the  Oriental  languages.  But,  what  is 
still  more  unaccountable,  they  have  a  fourth  personal  pronoun,  which  is  placed 
between  the  second  and  third  person  both  in  the  singular  and  in  the  plural. 
There  is  nothing  like  this  in  any  of  the  dead  or  living  languages  with  which 
we  have  the  slightest  acquaintance. 
11* 


126  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

who  were  the  pastoral  tribes,  and  whence  they  came.  Bruce,  the 
British  traveller,  who  finds  every  thing  in  Ethiopia,  derives  their 
origin  from  that  country.  The  Ethiopians,  however,  so  far  from 
being  able  to  send  colonies  abroad,  were  themselves  at  that  period 
a  recently-established  people.  "  The  Ethiopians/'  says  Eusebius, 
"  rising  from  the  banks  of  the  river  Indus,  settled  near  Egypt." 
Manetho,  in  his  sixth  dynasty,  calls  the  shepherds  Phoenician 
strangers.  Eusebius  places  their  arrival  in  Egypt  during  the 
reign  of  Amenophis,  whence  we  must  draw  these  two  inferences  : — 

1.  That  Egypt  was  not  then  barbarous,  since  Inachus  the  Egyp 
tian,  about   this    period,  introduced   the  sciences  into  Greece; 

2.  That  Egypt  was  not  covered  with  ruins,  since  Thebes  was  then 
built,  and  since  Amenophis  was  the  father  of  Sesostris,  who  raised 
the  glory  of  the  Egyptians  to  its  highest  pitch.     According  to 
Josephus  the  historian,  it  was  Thetmosis  who  compelled  the  shep 
herds  to  abandon  altogether  the  banks  of  the  Nile.1 

But  what  new  arguments  would  have  been  urged  against  the 
Scripture,  had  its  adversaries  been  acquainted  with  another  his 
torical  prodigy,  which  also  belongs  to  the  class  of  ruins, — alas  !  like 
every  thing  connected  with  the  history  of  mankind !  Within 
these  few  years,  extraordinary  monuments  have  been  discovered 
in  North  America,  on  the  banks  of  the  Muskiugum,  the  Miami, 
the  Wabash,  the  Ohio,  and  particularly  the  Scioto,  where  they 
occupy  a  space  upward  of  twenty  leagues  in  length.  They  con 
sist  of  ramparts  of  earth,  with  ditches,  slopes,  moons,  half-moons, 
and  prodigious  cones,  which  serve  for  sepulchres.  It  has  been 
asked,  what  people  could  have  left  these  remains  ?  But,  so  far, 
the  question  has  not  been  answered.3  Man  is  suspended  in  the 
present,  between  the  past  and  the  future,  as  on  a  rock  between 
two  gulfs :  behind,  before,  all  around,  is  darkness ;  and  scarcely 

1  Maneth.,  ad.  Joseph,  et  Afric. ;  Herod.,  lib.  ii.  c.  100;  Diod.,  lib.  i. ;  Ps. 
xlviii. ;  Euseb.,  Chron.,  lib.  i.    The  invasion  of  these  people,  recorded  by  profane 
authors,  explains  a  passage  in  Genesis  relative  to  Jacob  and  his  sons  :  "  That 
ye  may  dwell  in  the  land  of  Gessen,  for  the  Egyptians  have  all  shepherds  in 
abomination."  Gen.  xlvi.  34.       Hence,  also,  we  obtain  a  clue  to  the  Greek 
name  of  the  Pharaoh  under  whom  Israel  entered  Egypt,  and  that  of  the  second 
Pharaoh,  during  whose  reign  his  descendants  quitted  that  country.     The  Scrip 
ture,  so  far  from  contradicting  profane  histories,  serves,  on  the  contrary,  to 
prove  their  authenticity. 

2  See  note  H. 


LOGOGRAPHY  AND  HISTORICAL  FACTS. 


does  he  see  the  few  phantoms  which,  rising  up  from  the  bottom 
of  either  abyss,  float  for  a  moment  upon  the  surface,  and  then 
disappear. 

Whatever  conjectures  may  be  formed  respecting  these  Ame 
rican  ruins,  though  they  were  accompanied  with  the  visions  of  a 
primitive  world,  or  the  chimeras  of  an  Atlantis,  the  civilized 
nation,  whose  plough,  perhaps,  turned  up  the  plains  where  the 
Iroquois  now  pursues  the  bear,  required  no  longer  time  for  the 
consummation  of  its  destiny,  than  that  which  swallowed  up  the 
empires  of  a  Cyrus,  an  Alexander,  and  a  Caesar.  Fortunate  at 
least  is  that  nation  which  has  not  left  behind  a  name  in  history, 
and  whose  possessions  have  fallen  to  no  other  heirs  than  the  deer 
of  the  forest  and  the  birds  of  the  air !  No  one  will  come  intc 
these  savage  wilds  to  deny  the  Creator,  and,  with  scales  in  his 
hand,  to  weigh  the  dust  of  departed  humanity,  with  a  view  to 
prove  the  eternal  duration  of  mankind. 

For  my  part,  a  solitary  lover  of  nature  and  a  simple  confessor 
of  the  Deity,  I  once  sat  on  those  very  ruins.  A  traveller  without 
renown,  I  held  converse  with  those  relics,  like  myself,  unknown 
The  confused  recollections  of  society,  and  the  vague  reveries  of 
the  desert,  were  blended  in  the  recesses  of  my  soul.  Night  had 
reached  the  middle  of  her  course ;  all  was  solemn  and  still — the 
moon,  the  woods,  and  the  sepulchres, — save  that  at  long  intervals 
was  heard  the  fall  of  some  tree,  which  the  axe  of  time  laid  low, 
in  the  depths  of  the  forest.  Thus  every  thing  falls,  every  thing 
goes  to  ruin  ! 

We  do  not  conceive  ourselves  obliged  to  speak  seriously  of  the 
four  jog  ties,  or  Indian  ages,  the  first  of  which  lasted  three  mil 
lion  two  hundred  thousand  years  \  the  second,  one  million ;  the 
third,  one  million  six  hundred  thousand ;  while  the  fourth,  which 
is  the  present  age,  will  comprehend  four  hundred  thousand  years ! 

i  f  to  all  these  difficulties  of  chronology,  logography,  and  facts, 
we  add  the  errors  arising  from  the  passions  of  the  historian,  or 
of  men  who  are  the  partisans  of  his  theories, — if,  moreover,  we 
take  into  account  the  errors  of  copyists,  and  a  thousand  accidents 
of  time  and  place, — we  shall  be  compelled  to  acknowledge  that  all 
the  reasons  drawn  from  history  in  favor  of  the  antiquity  of  the 
globe,  are  as  unsatisfactory  in  themselves  as  their  research  is  use 
less.  Most  assuredly,  too,  it  is  a  poor  way  of  establishing  the 


128  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

duration  of  the  world,  to  make  human  life  the  basis  of  the  calcu 
lation.  Will  you  pretend  to  demonstrate  the  permanence  and  the 
reality  of  things  by  the  rapid  succession  of  momentary  shadows  ? 
Will  you  exhibit  a  heap  of  rubbish  as  the  evidence  of  a  society 
without  beginning  and  without  end  ?  Does  it  require  many  days 
to  produce  a  pile  of  ruins  ?  The  world  would  be  old  indeed  were 
we  to  number  its  years  by  the  wrecks  which  it  presents  to  our 
view. 


CHAPTER  III. 

ASTRONOMY. 

IN  the  history  of  the  firmament  are  sought  the  second  proofs 
of  the  antiquity  of  the  world  and  the  errors  of  Scripture.  Thus, 
the  heavens,  which  declare  the  glory  of  God  unto  all  men,  and 
whose  language  is  heard  by  all  nations,1  proclaim  nothing  to  the 
infidel.  Happily  it  is  not  that  the  celestial  orbs  are  mute,  but 
the  athiest  is  deaf. 

Astronomy  owes  its  origin  to  shepherds.  In  the  wilds  of  the 
primitive  creation,  the  first  generations  of  men  beheld  their  in 
fant  families  and  their  numerous  flocks  sporting  around  them, 
and,  happy  to  the  very  inmost  of  their  souls,  no  useless  foresight 
disturbed  their  repose.  In  the  departure  of  the  birds  of  autumn 
they  remarked  not  the  flight  of  years,  neither  did  the  fall  of  the 
leaves  apprise  them  of  any  thing  more  than  the  return  of  winter. 
When  the  neighboring  hill  was  stripped  of  all  its  herbage  by  their 
flocks,  mounting  their  wagons  covered  with  skins,  with  their 
children  and  their  wives,  they  traversed  the  forests  in  quest  of 
some  distant  river,  where  the  coolness  of  the  shade  and  the  beauty 
of  the  wilderness  invited  them  to  fix  their  new  habitation. 

But  they  wanted  a  compass  to  direct  them  through  those  track 
less  forests,  and  along  those  rivers  which  had  never  been  explored ; 
and  they  naturally  trusted  to  the  guidance  of  the  stars,  by  whose 
appearances  they  steered  their  course.  At  once  legislators  and 
guides,  they  regulated  the  shearing  of  the  sheep  and  the  most 

i  Ps.  xviii. 


ASTRONOMY.  129 


distant  migrations ;  each  family  followed  the  course  of  a  constel 
lation  ;  each  star  shone  as  the  leader  of  a  flock.  In  proportion 
as  these  pastoral  people  applied  to  this  study,  they  discovered  new 
laws.  In  those  days  God  was  pleased  to  unfold  the  course  of  the 
sun  to  the  tenants  of  the  lowly  cabin,  and  fable  recorded  that 
Apollo  had  descended  among  the  shepherds. 

Small  columns  of  brick  were  raised  to  perpetuate  the  remem 
brance  of  observations.  Never  had  the  mightiest  empire  a  more 
simple  history.  With  the  same  tool  with  which  he  pierced  his 
pipe,  by  the  same  altar  on  which  he  had  sacrificed  his  firstling 
kid,  the  herdsman  engraved  upon  a  rock  his  immortal  disco 
veries.  In  other  places  he  left  similar  witnesses  of  this  pastoral 
astronomy ;  he  exchanged  annals  with  the  firmament ;  and  in  the 
same  manner  as  he  had  inscribed  the  records  of  the  stars  among 
his  flocks,  he  wrote  the  records  of  his  flocks  among  the  constel 
lations  of  the  zodiac.  The  sun  retired  to  rest  only  in  the  sheep- 
folds  ;  the  bull  announced  by  his  bellowing  the  passage  of  the 
god  of  day,  and  the  ram  awaited  his  appearance  to  salute  him  in 
the  name  of  his  master.  In  the  skies  were  discovered  ears  of 
corn,  implements  of  agriculture,  virgins,  lambs,  nay,  even  the 
shepherd's  dog :  the  whole  sphere  was  transformed,  as  it  were, 
into  a  spacious  rural  mansion,  inhabited  by  the  Shepherd  of  men. 

These  happy  days  passed  away,  but  mankind  retained  a  con 
fused  tradition  of  them  in  those  accounts  of  the  golden  age,  in 
which  the  reign  of  the  stars  was  invariably  blended  with  that  of 
the  pastoral  life.  India  has  still  an  astronomical  and  pastoral  cha 
racter,  like  Egypt  of  old.  With  corruption,  however,  arose  pro 
perty;1  with  property  mensuration,  the  second  age  of  astronomy. 
But,  by  a  destiny  not  a  little  remarkable,  the  simplest  nations 
were  still  best  acquainted  with  the  system  of  the  heavens ;  the 
herdsman  of  the  Ganges  fell  into  errors  less  gross  than  the  philo 
sopher  of  Athens :  as  if  the  muse  of  astronomy  had  retained  a 
secret  partiality  for  the  shepherds,  the  objects  of  her  first  attach 
ment. 

1  That  is,  the  rights  of  property  became  objects  of  closer  vigilance  and  more 
jealous  care,  as  men  grew  more  selfish.  The  right  of  property,  being  a  neces 
sary  appendage  of  the  social  state,  cannot  be  an  evil  opposed  to  the  divine  law, 
but  rather  a  relation  which  that  law  sanctions  and  commands ;  so  that  the  vio 
lation  of  the  former  implies  the  transgression  of  the  latter.  T. 


130  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

During  those  protracted  calamities  which  accompanied  and 
succeeded  the  fall  of  the  Roman  empire,  the  sciences  had  no 
other  asylum  than  the  sanctuary  of  that  Church  which  they  now 
so  ungratefully  profane.  Cherished  in  the  silence  of  the  con 
vents,  they  owed  their  preservation  to  those  same  recluses  whom, 
in  our  days,  they  affect  to  despise.  A  friar  Bacon,  a  bishop 
Albert,  a  cardinal  Cusa,  resuscitated  in  their  laborious  vigils  the 
genius  of  an  Eudoxus,  a  Timocharis,  an  Hipparchus,  and  a 
Ptolemy.  Patronized  by  the  popes,  who  set  an  example  to  kings, 
the  sciences  at  length  spread  abroad  from  those  sacred  retreats  in 
which  religion  had  gathered  them  under  her  protecting  wings. 
Astronomy  revived  in  every  quarter.  Gregory  XIII.  corrected 
the  calendar;  Copernicus  reformed  the  system  of  the  world; 
Tycho  Brahe,  from  the  top  of  his  tower,  renewed  the  memory  of 
the  ancient  Babylonian  observers ;  Kepler  determined  the  figure 
of  the  planetary  orbits.  But  God  humbled  again  the  pride  of 
man  by  granting  to  the  sports  of  innocence  what  he  had  refused 
to  the  investigations  of  philosophy; — the  telescope  was  discovered 
by  children.  Galileo  improved  the  new  instrument;  when,  be 
hold  !  the  paths  of  immensity  were  at  once  shortened,  the  genius 
of  man  brought  down  the  heavens  from  their  elevation,  and  the 
stars  came  to  be  measured  by  his  hands. 

These  numerous  discoveries  were  but  the  forerunners  of  others 
still  more  important;  for  man  had  approached  too  near  the  sanc 
tuary  of  nature  not  to  be  soon  admitted  within  its  precincts. 
Nothing  was  now  wanted  but  the  proper  methods  of  relieving  his 
mind  from  the  vast  calculations  which  overwhelmed  it.  Descartes 
soon  ventured  to  refer  to  the  great  Creator  the  physical  laws  of 
our  globe ;  and,  by  one  of  those  strokes  of  genius  of  which  only 
four  or  five  instances  are  recorded  in  history,  he  effected  a  union 
between  algebra  and  geometry  in  the  same  manner  as  speech  is 
combined  with  thought.  Newton  had  only  to  apply  the  materials 
which  so  many  hands  had  prepared  for  him,  but  he  did  it  like  a 
perfect  artist;  and  from  the  various  plans  upon  which  he  might 
have  reared  the  edifice  of  the  spheres,  he  selected  the  noblest, 
the  most  sublime  design — perhaps  that  of  the  Deity  himself.  The 
understanding  at  length  ascertained  the  order  which  the  eye  ad 
mired  ;  the  golden  balance  which  Homer  and  the  Scriptures  give 
to  the  Supreme  Arbiter  was  again  put  into  his  hand ;  the  comet 


ASTRONOMY. 


submitted ;  planet  attracted  planet  across  the  regions  of  im 
mensity;  ocean  felt  the  pressure  of  two  vast  bodies  floating  mil 
lions  of  leagues  from  its  surface ;  from  the  sun  to  the  minutest 
atom  all  things  continued  in  their  places  by  an  admirable  equili 
brium,  and  nothing  in  nature  now  wanted  a  counterpoise  but  the 
heart  of  man. 

Who  could  have  thought  it  ?  At  the  very  time  when  so  many 
new  proofs  of  the  greatness  and  wisdom  of  Providence  were  dis 
covered,  there  were  men  who  shut  their  eyes  more  closely  than 
ever  against  the  light.  Not  that  those  immortal  geniuses,  Co 
pernicus,  Tycho  Brahe,  Kepler,  Leibnitz,  and  Newton,  were  athe 
ists  ;  but  their  successors,  by  an  unaccountable  fatality,  imagined 
that  they  held  the  Deity  within  their  crucibles  and  telescopes, 
because  they  perceived  in  them  some  of  the  elements  with  which 
the  universal  mind  had  founded  the  system  of  worlds.  When  we 
recall  the  terrors  of  the  French  revolution,  when  we  consider 
that  to  the  vanity  of  science  we  owe  almost  all  our  calamities,  is 
it  not  enough  to  make  us  think  that  man  was  on  the  point  of 
perishing  once  more,  for  having  a  second  time  raised  his  hand  to 
the  fruit  of  the  tree  of  knowledge  ?  Let  this  afford  us  matter 
for  reflection  on  the  original  crime  :  the  ages  of  science  have 
always  bordered  on  the  ages  of  destruction. 

Truly  unfortunate,  in  our  opinion,  is  the  astronomer  who  can 
pass  his  nights  in  contemplating  the  stars  without  beholding  in 
scribed  upon  them  the  name  of  God.  What !  can  he  not  see  in 
such  a  variety  of  figures  and  characters  the  letters  which  compose 
that  divine  name  ?  Is  not  the  problem  of  a  Deity  solved  by  the 
mysterious  calculations  of  so  many  suns  ?  Does  not  the  brilliant 
algebra  of  the  heavens  suffice  to  bring  to  light  the  great  Un 
known  ? 

The  first  astronomical  objection  alleged  against  the  system  of 
Moses  is  founded  on  the  celestial  sphere.  "  How  can  the  world 
be  so  modern?"  exclaims  the  philosopher;  " the  very  composition 
of  the  sphere  implies  millions  of  years/' 

It  must  also  be  admitted  that  astronomy  was  one  of  the  first 
sciences  cultivated  by  men.  Bailly  proves  that  the  patriarchs, 
before  the  time  of  Noah,  were  acquainted  with  the  period  of  six 
hundred  years,  the  year  of  365  days,  5  hours,  51  minutes,  36 
seconds,  and  likewise  that  they  named  the  six  days  of  the  crea- 


132  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

tion  after  the  planetary  order.1  If  the  primitive  generations 
were  already  so  conversant  with  the  history  of  the  heavens,  is  it 
not  highly  probable  that  the  ages  which  have  elapsed  since  the 
deluge  have  been  more  than  sufficient  to  bring  the  science  of  as 
tronomy  to  the  state  in  which  we  find  it  at  the  present  day?  It 
is  impossible  to  pronounce  with  certainty  respecting  the  time 
necessary  for  the  development  of  a  science.  From  Copernicus  to 
Newton,  astronomy  made  greater  progress  in  one  century  than  h 
h;id  previously  done  in  the  course  of  three  thousand  years.  The 
sciences  may  be  compared  to  regions  diversified  with  plains  and 
mountains.  We  proceed  with  rapid  pace  over  the  plain;  but 
when  we  reach  the  foot  of  the  mountain  a  considerable  time  is 
lost  in  exploring  its  paths  and  in  climbing  the  summit  from 
which  we  descend  into  another  plain.  It  must  not  then  be  con 
cluded  that  astronomy  was  myriads  of  centuries  in  its  infancy, 
because  its  middle  age  was  protracted  during  four  thousand  years: 
such  an  idea  would  contradict  all  that  we  know  of  history  and  of 
the  progress  of  the  human  mind. 

The  second  objection  is  deduced  from  the  historical  epochs, 
combined  with  the  astronomical  observations  of  nations,  and  in 
particular  those  of  the  Chaldeans  and  Indians. 

In  regard  to  the  former,  it  is  well  known  that  the  seven  hun 
dred  and  twenty  thousand  years  of  which  they  boasted  are  re 
ducible  to  nineteen  hundred  and  three." 

As  to  the  observations  of  the  Indians,  those  which  are  founded 
on  incontestable  facts  date  no  farther  back  than  the  year  3102 
before  the  Christian  era.  This  we  admit  to  be  a  very  high  de 
gree  of  antiquity,  but  it  comes  at  least  within  known  limits.  At 
this  epoch  the  fourth  jogue  or  Indian  age  commences.  Bailly, 
combining  the  first  three  ages  and  adding  them  to  the  fourth, 
shows  that  the  whole  chronology  of  the  Brahmins  is  comprised  in 
the  space  of  about  seventy  centuries,  which  exactly  corresponds 
with  the  chronology  of  the  Septuagint.3  He  proves  to  demon 
stration  that  the  chronicles  of  the  Egyptians,  the  Chaldeans,  the 
Chinese,  the  Persians,  and  the  Indians,  coincide  in  a  remarkable 

1  Bail.,  Hi»t.  de  V  Ast.  Anc. 

2  The  tables  of  these  observations,  drawn  up  at  Babylon  before  the  arrival 
of  Alexander,  were  sent  by  Callisi hones  to  Aristotle. 

3  See  note  I. 


NATURAL   HISTORY— THE   DELUGE.  133 


degree  with  the  epochs  of  Scripture.1  We  quote  Bailly  the  more 
willingly,  as  that  philosopher  fell  a  victim  to  the  principles  which 
we  have  undertaken  to  refute.  When  this  unfortunate  man,  in 
speaking  of  Hypatia, — a  young  female  astronomer,  murdered  by 
the  inhabitants  of  Alexandria, — observed  that  the  moderns  at  least 
spare  life,  thouyh  they  show  no  mercy  to  reputation,  little  did  he 
suspect  that  he  would  himself  afford  a  lamentable  proof  of  the 
fallacy  of  his  assertion,  and  that  in  his  own  person  the  tragic 
story  of  Hypatia  would  be  repeated. 

In  short,  all  these  endless  series  of  generations  and  centuries, 
which  are  to  be  met  with  among  different  nations,  spring  from  a 
weakness  natural  to  the  human  heart.  Man  feels  within  himself 
a  principle  of  immortality,  and  shrinks  as  it  were  with  shame 
from  the  contemplation  of  his  brief  existence.  He  imagines  that 
by  piling  tombs  upon  tombs  he  will  hide  from  view  this  capital 
defect  of  his  nature,  and  by  adding  nothing  to  nothing  he  will  at 
length  produce  eternity.  But  he  only  betrays  himself,  and  re 
veals  what  he  is  so  anxious  to  conceal ;  for,  the  higher  the  funeral, 
pyramid  is  reared,  the  more  diminutive  seems  the  living  statue 
that  surmounts  it ;  and  life  appears  the  more  insignificant  when 
the  monstrous  phantom  of  death  lifts  it  up  in  its  arms. 


CHAPTER   TV. 

NATURAL   HISTORY THE   DELUGE. 

ASTRONOMY  having  been  found  insufficient  to  destroy  the 
chronology  of  Scripture,  natural  history  was  summoned  to  its 
aid.*  Some  writers  speak  of  certain  epochs  in  which  the  whole 

1  Bail.,  Ast.  Ind.,  disc,  prelim.,  part  ii. 

2  Philosophers  have  laughed  at  Joshua,  who  commanded  the  sun  to  stand 
still.     We  would  scarcely  have  thought  it  necessary  to  inform  the  present  age 
that  the  sun,  though  the  centre  of  our  system,  is  not  motionless.     Others  havo 
excused  Joshua  by  observing  that  he  adopted  the  popular  mode  of  expression. 
They  might  just  as  well  have  said  that  he  spoke  like  Newton.     If  you  wished 
to  stop  a  watch,  you  would  not  break  a  small  wheel,  but  the   main-spring, 
the  suspension  of  which  would  instantly  arrest  the  movements  of  the  whole 
machine. 

12 


134  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

universe  grew  young  again;  others  deny  the  great  catastrophes 
of  the  globe,  such  as  the  universal  deluge.  "Rain,"  say  they, 
"  is  nothing  but  the  vapor  of  the  ocean.  Now,  all  the  seas  of  the 
globe  would  not  be  sufficient  to  cover  the  earth  to  the  height 
mentioned  in  Scripture."  We  might  reply  that  this  mode  of 
reasoning  is  at  variance  with  that  very  knowledge  of  which  men 
boast  so  much  nowadays,  as  modern  chemistry  teaches  us  that 
air  may  be  converted  into  water.  Were  this  the  case,  what  a 
frightful  deluge  would  be  witnessed  !  But,  passing  over,  as  we 
willingly  do,  those  scientific  arguments  which  explain  every  thing 
to  the  understanding  without  satisfying  the  heart,  we  shall  con 
fine  ourselves  to  the  remark,  that,  to  submerge  the  terrestrial  por 
tion  of  the  globe,  it  is  sufficient  for  Ocean  to  overleap  his  bounds, 
carrying  wkh  him  the  waters  of  the  fathomless  gulf.  Besides, 
ye  presumptuous  mortals,  have  ye  penetrated  into  the  treasures 
of  the  hail?1  are  ye  acquainted  with  all  the  reservoirs  of  that 
abyss  whence  the  Lord  will  call  forth  death  on  the  dreadful  day 
•of  his  vengeance  ? 

Whether  God,  raising  the  bed  of  the  sea,  poured  its  turbulent 
waters  over  the  land,  or,  changing  the  course  of  the  sun,  caused 
it  to  rise  at  the  pole,  portentous  of  evil,  the  fact  is  certain,  that 
a  destructive  deluge  has  laid  waste  the  earth. 

On  this  occasion  the  human  race  was  nearly  annihilated.  All 
national  quarrels  were  at  an  end,  all  revolutions  ceased.  Kings, 
people,  hostile  armies,  suspended  their  sanguinary  quarrels,  and, 
seized  with  mortal  fear,  embraced  one  another.  The  temples 
were  crowded  with  suppliants,  who  had  all  their  lives,  perhaps, 
denied  the -Deity;  but  the  Deity  denied  them  in  his  turn,  and  it 
was  soon  announced  that  all  ocean  was  rushing  in  at  the  gates.  In 
vain  mothers  fled  with  their  infants  to  the  summits  of -the  moun 
tains  ;  in  vain  the  lover  expected  to  find  a  refuge  for  his  mistress 
in  the  same  grot  which  had  witnessed  his  vows ;  in  vain  friends 
disputed  with  affrighted  beasts  the  topmost  branches  of  the  oak; 
the  bird  himself,  driven  from  bough  to  bough  by  the  rising  flood, 
tired  his  wings  to  no  purpose  over  the  shoreless  plain  of  waters. 
The  sun,  which  through  sombre  clouds  shed  a  lurid  light  on 
naught  but  scenes  of  death,  appeared  dull  and  empurpled ;  the 

'Job. 


NATURAL   HISTORY— THE   DELUGE.  135 

volcanoes,  disgorging  vast  masses  of  smoke,  were  extinguished, 
and  one  of  the  four  elements,  fire,  perished  together  with  light. 

The  world  was  now  covered  with  horrible  shades  which  sent 
forth  the  most  terrific  cries.  Amid  the  humid  darkness,  the 
remnant  of  living  creatures,  the  tiger  and  the  lamb,  the  eagle 
and  the  dove,  the  reptile  and  the  insect,  man  and  woman,  hastened 
together  to  the  most  elevated  rock  on  the  surface  of  the  globe; 
but  Ocean  still  pursued  them,  and,  raising  around  them  his  stu 
pendous  and  menacing  waters,  buried  the  last  point  of  land  be 
neath  his  stormy  wastes. 

God,  having  accomplished  his  vengeance,  commanded  the  seas 
to  retire  within  the  abyss ;  but  he  determined  to  impress  on  the 
globe  everlasting  traces  of  his  wrath.  The  relics  of  the  elephant 
of  India  were  piled  up  in  the  regions  of  Siberia;  the  shell-fish  of 
the  Magellanic  shores  were  fixed  in  the  quarries  of  France;  whole 
beds  of  marine  substances  settled  upon  the  summits  of  the  Alps, 
of  Taurus,  and  of  the  Cordilleras;  and  those  mountains  them 
selves  were  the  monuments  which  God  left  in  the  three  worlds 
to  commemorate  his  triumph  over  the  wicked,  as  a  monarch 
erects  a  trophy  on  the  field  where  he  has  defeated  his  enemies. 

He  was  not  satisfied,  however,  with  these  general  attestations 
of  his  past  indignation.  Knowing  how  soon  the  remembrance  of 
calamity  is  effaced  from  the  mind  of  man,  he  spread  memorials 
of  it  everywhere  around  him.  The  sun  had  now  no  other  throne 
in  the  morning,  no  other  couch  at  night,  than  the  watery  element, 
in  which  it  seemed  to  be  daily  extinguished  as  at  the  time  of  the 
deluge.  Often  the  clouds  of  heaven  resembled  waves  heaped 
upon  one  another,  sandy  shores  or  whitened  cliffs.  On  land,  the 
rocks  discharged  torrents  of  water.  The  light  of  the  moon  and 
the  white  vapors  of  evening  at  times  gave  to  the  valleys  the  ap 
pearance  of  being  covered  with  a  sheet  of  water.  In  the  most  arid 
situations  grew  trees,  whose  bending  branches  hung  heavily  toward 
the  earth,  as  if  they  had  just  risen  from  the  bosom  of  the  waves. 
Twice  a  day  the  sea  was  commanded  to  rise  again  in  its  bed,  and 
to  invade  its  deep  resounding  shores.  The  caverns  of  the  moun 
tains  retained  a  hollow  and  mournful  sound.  The  summits  of  the 
solitary  woods  presented  an  image  of  the  rolling  billows,  and  the 
ocean  seemed  to  have  left  the  roar  of  its  waters  in  the  recesses  of 
the  forest. 


136  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  V. 

YOUTH  AND  OLD  AGE  OF  THE  EARTH. 

WE  now  come  to  the  third  objection  relative  to  the  modern 
origin  of  the  globe.  "The  earth/'  it  is  said,  "is  an  aged  nurse, 
who  betrays  her  antiquity  in  every  thing.  Examine  her  fossils, 
her  marbles,  her  granites,  her  lavas,  and  you  will  discover  in 
them  a  series  of  innumerable  years,  marked  by  circles,  strata,  or 
branches,  as  the  age  of  a  serpent  is  determined  by  his  rattles,  that 
of  a  horse  by  his  teeth,  or  that  of  a  stag  by  his  antlers."1 

This  difficulty  has  been  solved  a  hundred  times  by  the  follow 
ing  answer:  God  might  have  created,  and  doubtless  aid  create, 
the  world  with  all  the  marks  of  antiquity  and  completeness  which 
it  now  exhibits. 

What,  in  fact,  can  be  more  probable  than  that  the  Author  of 
nature  originally  produced  both  venerable  forests  and  young  plan 
tations,  and  that  the  animals  were  created,  some  full  of  days, 
others  adorned  with  the  graces  of  infancy  ?  The  oaks,  on  spring 
ing  from  the  fruitful  soil,  doubtless  bore  at  once  the  aged  crows 
and  the  new  progeny  of  doves.  Worm,  chrysalis,  and  butterfly — 
the  insect  crawled  upon  the  grass,  suspended  its  golden  egg  in  the 
forest,  or  fluttered  aloft  in  the  air.  The  bee,  though  she  had 
lived  but  a  morning,  already  gathered  her  ambrosia  from  genera 
tions  of  flowers.  We  may.  imagine  that  the  ewe  was  not  without 
her  lamb,  nor  the  linnet  without  her  young;  and  that  the  flower 
ing  shrubs  concealed  among  their  buds  nightingales,  astonished  at 
the  warbling  notes  in  which  they  expressed  the  tenderness  of 
their  first  enjoyments. 

If  the  world  had  not  been  at  the  same  time  young  and  old, 
the  grand,  the  serious,  the  moral,  would  have  been  banished  from 
the  face  of  nature;  for  these  are  ideas  essentially  inherent  in  an- 
tique^objects.  Every  scene  would  have  lost  its  wonders.  The 
rock  in  ruins  would  no  longer  have  overhung  the  abyss  with  its 
The  forestg?  stripped  of  their  accidents> 

1  See  note  K 


YOUTH  AND  OLD  AGE  OF  THE  EARTH.       137 


no  longer  have  exhibited  the  pleasing  irregularity  of  trees  curved 
in  every  direction,  and  of  trunks  bending  over  the  currents  of 
rivers.  The  inspired  thoughts,  the  venerable  sounds,  the  magic 
voices,  the  sacred  awe  of  the  forests,  would  have  been  wanting, 
together  with  the  darksome  bowers  which  serve  for  their  retreats; 
and  the  solitudes  of  earth  and  heaven  would  have  remained  bare 
and  unattractive  without  those  columns  of  oaks  which  join  them 
together.  We  may  well  suppose,  that  the  very  day  the  ocean 
poured  its  first  waves  upon  the  shores,  they  dashed  against  rocks 
already  worn,  over  strands  covered  with  fragments  of  shell-fish, 
and  around  barren  capes  which  protected  the  sinking  coasts 
against  the  ravages  of  the  waters. 

Without  this  original  antiquity,  there  would  have  been  neither 
beauty  nor  magnificence  in  the  work  of  the  Almighty;  and,  what 
could  not  possibly  be  the  case,  nature,  in  a  state  of  innocence, 
would  have  been  less  charming  than  she  is  in  her  present  dege 
nerate  condition.  A  general  infancy  of  plants,  of  animals,  of  ele 
ments,  would  have  spread  an  air  of  dulness  and  languor  through 
out  the  world,  and  stripped  it  of  all*  poetical  inspiration.  But 
God  was  not  so  unskilful  a  designer  of  the  groves  of  Eden  as 
infidels  pretend.  Man,  the  lord  6f  the  earth,  was  ushered  into 
life  with  the  maturity  of  thirty  years,  that  the  majesty  of  his  be 
ing  might  accord  with  the  antique  grandeur  of  his  new  empire; 
and  in  like  manner  his  partner,  doubtless,  shone  in  all  the  bloom 
ing  graces  of  female  beauty  when  she  was  formed  from  Adam, 
that  she  might  be  in  unison  with  the  flowers  and  the  birds,  with 
innocence  and  love,  and  with  all  the  youthful  part  of  the  universe. 

12* 


BOOK  V. 

THE  EXISTENCE  OF  GOD   DEMONSTRATED  BY  THE 
WORKS  OF   NATURE. 

CHAPTER   I. 

OBJECT    OF   THIS   BOOK. 

ONE  of  the  principal  doctrines  of  Christianity  yet  remains  to 
be  examined;  that  is,  the  state  of  rewards  and  punishments  in 
another  life.  But  we  cannot  enter  upon  this  important  subject 
without  first  speaking  of  the  two  pillars  which  support  the  edifice 
of  all  the  religions  in  the  world — the  existence  of  God,  and  the 
immortality  of  the  soul. 

These  topics  are,  moreover,  suggested  by  the  natural  develop 
ment  of  our  subject;  since  it  is  only  after  having  followed  Faith 
here  below  that  we  can  accompany  her  to  those  heavenly  man 
sions  to  which  she  speeds  her  flight  on  leaving  the  earth.  Ad 
hering  scrupulously  to  our  plan,  we  shall  banish  all  abstract  ideas 
from  our  proofs  of  the  existence  of  God  and  the  immortality  of  the 
soul,  and  shall  employ  only  such  arguments  as  may  be  derived  from 
poetical  and  sentimental  considerations,  or,  in  other  words,  from 
the  wonders  of  nature  and  the  moral  feelings.  Plato  and  Cicero 
among  the  ancients,  Clarke  and  Leibnitz  among  the  moderns, 
have  metaphysically,  and  almost  mathematically,  demonstrated  the 
existence  of  a  Supreme  Being,1  while  the  brightest  geniuses  in 
every  age  have  admitted  this  consoling  dogma.  If  it  is  rejected 
by  certain  sophists,  God  can  exist  just  as  well  without  their 
suffrage-  Death  alone,  to  which  atheists  would  reduce  all  things, 
stands  in  need  of  defenders  to  vindicate  its  rights,  since  it  has 
but  little  reality  for  man.  Let  us  leave  it,  then,  its  deplorable 
partisans,  who  are  not  even  agreed  among  themselves ;  for  if  they 
who  believe  in  Providence  concur  in  the  principal  points  of  their 
doctrine,  they,  on  the  contrary,  who  deny  the  Creator,  are  involved 

'  See  note  L. 
138 


GENERAL   SURVEY   OF   THE   UNIVERSE.  139 

in  everlasting  disputes  concerning  the  basis  of  their  nothingness. 
They  have  before  them  an  abyss.  To  fill  it  up,  they  want  only 
the  foundation-stone,  but  they  are  at  a  loss  where  to  procure  it. 
Such,  moreover,  is  the  essential  character  of  error,  that  when  this 
error  is  not  our  own  it  instantly  shocks  and  disgusts  us;  hence 
th  3  interminable  quarrels  among  atheists. 


CHAPTER  II. 

A  GENERAL  SURVEY  OF  THE  UNIVERSE. 

THERE  is  a  God.  The  plants  of  the  valley  and  the  cedars  of 
the  mountain  bless  his  name;  the  insect  hums  his  praise;  the 
elephant  salutes  him  with  the  rising  day;  the  bird  glorifies  him 
among  the  foliage;  the  lightning  bespeaks  his  power,  and  the 
ocean  declares  his  immensity.  Man  alone  has  said,  "  There  is  no 
God." 

Has  he  then  in  adversity  never  raised  his  eyes  toward  heaven  ? 
has  he  in  prosperity  never  cast  them  on  the  earth  ?  Is  Nature  so 
far  from  him  that  he  has  not  been  able  to  contemplate  its  won 
ders;  or  does  he  consider  them  as  the  mere  result  of  fortuitous 
causes '/  But  how  could  chance  have  compelled  crude  and  stub 
born  materials  to  arrange  themselves  in  such  exquisite  order? 

It  might  be  asserted  that  man  is  the  idea  of  God  displayed, 
and  the  universe  his  imagination  made  manifest.  They  who 
have  admitted  the  beauty  of  nature  as  a  proof  of  a  supreme 
intelligence,  ought  to  have  pointed  out  a  truth  which  greatly 
enlarges  the  sphere  of  wonders.  It  is  this  :  motion  and  rest, 
darkness  and  light,  the  seasons,  the  revolutions  of  the  heavenly 
bodies,  which  give  variety  to  the  decorations  of  the  world,  are 
successive  only  in  appearance,  and  permanent  in  reality.  The 
scene  that  fades  upon  our  view  is  painted  in  brilliant  colors 
for  another  people ;  it  is  not  the  spectacle  that  is  changed,  but 
the  spectator.  Thus  God  has  combined  in  his  work  absolute 
duration  and  progressive  duration.  The  first  is  placed  in  time, 
the  second  in  space ;  by  means  of  the  former,  the  beauties  of  the 
universe  are  one,  infinite,  and  invariable ;  by  means  of  the  latter, 


H0  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY.  % 

they  are  multiplied,  finite,  and  perpetually  renewed.  Without 
the  one,  there  would  be  no  grandeur  in  the  creation;  without 
the  other,  it  would  exhibit  nothing  but  dull  uniformity. 

Here  time  appears  to  us  in  a  new  point  of  view ;  the  smallest 
of  its  fractions  becomes  a  complete  whole,  which  comprehends 
all  things,  and  in  which  all  things  transpire,  from  the  death  of 
an  insect  to  the  birth  of  a  world;  each  minute  is  in  itself  a  little 
eternity.     Combine,  then,  at  the  same  moment,  in  imagination, 
the  most  beautiful  incidents  of  nature;  represent  to  yourself  at 
once  all  the  hours  of  the  day  and  all  the  seasons  of  the  year,  a 
spring  morning  and  an  autumnal  morning,  a  night  spangled  with 
stars  and  a  night  overcast  with  clouds,  meadows  enamelled  with 
flowers,  forests  stripped  by  the  frosts,  and  fields  glowing  with 
their  golden  harvests;   you  will  then  have  a  just  idea  of  the 
prospect  of  the  universe.    While  you  are  gazing  with  admiration 
upon  the  sun  sinking  beneath  the  western  arch,  another  beholds 
it  emerging  from  the  regions  of  Aurora.     By  what  inconceivable 
magic  does  it  come,  that  this  aged  luminary,  which  retires  to  rest, 
as  if  weary  and  heated,  in  the  dusky  arms  of  night,  is  at  the 
very  same  moment  that  youthful  orb  which  awakes  bathed  in 
dew,  and  sparkling   through  the   gray  curtains  of   the  dawn  ? 
Every  moment  of  the  day  the  sun  is  rising,  glowing  at  his  zenith, 
and  setting  on  the  world ;  or  rather  our  senses  deceive  us,  and 
there  is  no  real  sunrise,  noon,  or  sunset.     The  whole  is  reduced 
to  a  fixed  point,  from  which  the  orb  of  day  emits,  at  one  and  the 
same  time,  three  lights  from  one  single  substance.     This  triple 
splendor  is  perhaps  the  most  beautiful  incident  in  nature;  for, 
while  it  affords  an  idea  of  the  perpetual  magnificence  and  omni 
presence  of  God,  it  exhibits  a  most  striking  image  of  his  glorious 
Trinity. 

We  cannot  conceive  what  a  scene  of  confusion  nature  would 
present  if  it  were  abandoned  to  the  sole  movements  of  matter. 
The  clouds,  obedient  to  the  laws  of  gravity,  would  fall  perpen 
dicularly  upon  the  earth,  or  ascend  in  pyramids  into  the  air ;  a 
moment  afterward  the  atmosphere  would  be  too  dense  or  too 
rarefied  for  the  organs  of  respiration.  The  moon,  either  too  near 
or  too  distant,  would  at  one  time  be  invisible,  at  another  would 
appear  bloody  and  covered  with  enormous  spots,  or  would  alone 
fill  the  whole  celestial  concave  with  her  disproportionate  orb. 


ORGANIZATION   OF  ANIMALS   AND   OF   PLANTS.        14] 

Seized,  as  it  were,  with  a  strange  kind  of  madness,  she  would 
pass  from  one  eclipse  to  another,  or,  rolling  from  side  to  side, 
would  exhibit  that  portion  of  her  surface  which  earth  has  never 
yet  beheld.  The  stars  would  appear  to  be  under  the  influence 
of  the  same  capricious  power ;  and  nothing  would  be  seen  but  a 
succession  of  tremendous  conjunctions.  One  of  the  summer 
signs  would  be  speedily  overtaken  by  one  of  the  signs  of  winter ; 
the  Cow-herd  would  lead  the  Pleiades,  and  the  Lion  would  roar 
in  Aquarius ;  here  the  stars  would  dart  along  with  the  rapidity 
of  lightning,  there  they  would  be  suspended  motionless;  some 
times,  crowding  together  in  groups,  they  would  form  a  new  ga 
laxy;  at  others,  disappearing  all  at  once,  and,  to  use  the  expression 
of  Tertullian,  rending  the  curtain  of  the  universe,  they  would 
expose  to  view  the  abysses  of  eternity. 

No  such  appearances,  however,  Will  strike  terror  into  the  breast 
of  man,  until  the  day  when  the  Almighty  will  drop  the  reins  of 
the  world,  employing  for  its  destruction  no  other  means  than  to 
leave  it  to  itself. 


CHAPTER  III. 

ORGANIZATION    OP   ANIMALS   AND   OF   PLANTS. 

PASSING  from  general  to  particular  considerations,  let  us  exa 
mine  whether  the  different  parts  of  the  universe  exhibit  the 
same  wisdom  that  is  so  plainly  expressed  in  the  whole.  We  shall 
here  avail  ourselves  of  the  testimony  of  a  class  of  men,  benefac 
tors  alike  of  science  and  of  humanity :  we  mean  the  professors 
of  the  medical  art. 

Doctor  Nieuwentyt,  in  his  Treatise  on  the  Existence  of  God* 
has  undertaken  to  demonstrate  the  reality  of  final  causes.  With* 
out  following  him  through  all  his  observations,  we  shall  content 
ourselves  with  adducing  a  few  of  them. 

1  In  all  the  passages  here  quoted  from  the  treatise  of  Nieuwentyt,  we  have 
taken  the  liberty  of  altering  the  language  and  giving  a  higher  coloring  to  his 
subject.  The  doctor  is  learned,  intelligent,  and  judicious,  but  dry.  We  have 
also  added  some  observations  of  our  own. 


142  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

In  treating  of  the  four  elements,  which  he  considers  in  their 
harmonies  with  man  and  the  creation  in  general,  he  shows,  in 
respect  to  air,  how  our  bodies  are  marvellously  preserved  beneath 
an  atmospheric  column,  equal  in  its  pressure  to  a  weight  of 
twenty  thousand  pounds.  He  proves  that  the  change  of  one 
single  quality,  either  as  to  rarefaction  or  density,  in  the  element 
we  breathe,  would  be  sufficient  to  destroy  every  living  creature. 
It  is  the  air  that  causes  the  smoke  to  ascend ;  it  is  the  air  that 
retains  liquids  in  vessels ;  by  its  agitation  it  purifies  the  heavens, 
and  wafts  to  the  continents  the  clouds  of  the  ocean. 

He  then  demonstrates,  by  a  multitude  of  experiments,  the  ne 
cessity  of  water.  Who  can  behold,  without  astonishment,  the 
wonderful  quality  of  this  element,  by  which  it  ascends,  contrary 
to  all  the  laws  of  gravity,  in  an  element  lighter  than  itself,  in 
order  to  supply  us  with  rain  and  dew  ?  He  considers  the  arrange 
ment  of  mountains,  so  as  to  give  a  circulation  to  rivers;  the 
topography  of  these  mountains  in  islands  and  on  the  main  land ; 
the  outlets  of  gulfs,  bays,  and  mediterranean  waters;  the  innu 
merable  advantages  of  seas  :  nothing  escapes  the  attention  of  this 
good  and  learned  man.  In  the  same  manner  he  unfolds  the  ex 
cellence  of  the  earth  as  an  element,  and  its  admirable  laws  as  a 
planet.  He  likewise  describes  the  utility  of  fire,  and  the  exten 
sive  aid  it  has  afforded  in  the  various  departments  of  human 
industry.1 

When  he  passes  to  animals,  he  observes  that  those  which  we 
call  domestic  come  into  the  world  with  precisely  that  degree  of 
instinct  which  is  necessary  in  order  to  tame  them,  while  others 
that  are  unserviceable  to  man  never  lose  their  natural  wildness. 
Can  it  be  chance  that  inspires  the  gentle  and  useful  animals  with 
the  disposition  to  live  together  in  our  fields,  and  prompts  ferocious 
beasts  to  roam  by  themselves  in  unfrequented  places?  Why 
should  not  flocks  of  tigers  be  led  by  the  sound  of  the  shepherd's 
fife?  Why  should  not  a  colony  of  lions  be  seen  frisking  in  our 
parks,  among  the  wild  thyme  and  the  dew,  like  the  little  animals 
celebrated  by  La  Fontaine  ?  Those  ferocious  beasts  could  never 
be  employed  for  any  other  purpose  than  to  draw  the  car  of  some 

1  Modern  physics  may  correct  some  errors  in  this  part  of  his  work ;  but  the 
progress  of  that  science,  so  far  from  conflicting  with  the  doctrine  of  final  causes, 
furnishes  new  proofs  of  the  bounty  of  Providence. 


ORGANIZATION  OF  ANIMALS  AND  OF   PLANTS.        143 

triumphant  warrior,  as  cruel  as  themselves,  or  to  devour  Chris 
tians  in  an  amphitheatre.1  Alas !  tigers  are  never  civilized  among 
men,  but  men  oftentimes  assume  the  savage  disposition  of  the 
tiger ! 

The  observations  of  Nieuwentyt  on  the  qualities  of  birds  are 
not  less  interesting.  Their  wings,  convex  above  and  concave 
underneath,  are  oars  perfectly  adapted  to  the  element  they  are 
designed  to  cleave.  The  wren,  that  delights  in  hedges  of  thorn 
and  arbutus,  which  to  her  are  extensive  deserts,  is  provided  with 
a  double  eyelid,  to  preserve  its  sight  from  every  kind  of  injury. 
But  how  admirable  are  the  contrivances  of  nature  !  this  eyelid  is 
transparent,  and  the  little  songstress  of  the  cottage  can  drop  this 
wonderful  veil  without  being  deprived  of  sight.  Providence 
kindly  ordained  that  she  should  not  lose  her  way  when  conveying 
the  drop  of  water  or  the  grain  of  millet  to  her  nest,  and  that  her 
little  family  beneath  the  bush  should  not  pine  at  her  absence. 

And  what  ingenious  springs  move  the  feet  of  birds  ?  It  is  not 
by  a  play  of  the  muscles  which  their  immediate  will  determines, 
that  they  hold  themselves  firm  on  a  branch  :  their  feet  are  so 
constructed,  that,  when  they  are  pressed  in  the  centre  or  at  the 
heel,  the  toes  naturally  grasp  the  object  which  presses  against 
them.3  From  this  mechanism  it  follows  that  the  claws  of  a  bird 
adhere  more  or  less  firmly  to  the  object  on  which  it  alights,  as  the 
motion  of  that  object  is  more  or  less  rapid ;  for.  in  the  waving  of 
the  branch,  either  the  branch  presses  against  the  foot  or  the  foot 
against  the  branch,  and  in  either  case  there  results  a  more  forcible 
contraction  of  the  claws.  When  in  the  winter  season,  at  the  ap 
proach  of  night,  we  see  ravens  perched  on  the  leafless  summit  of 
the  oak,  we  imagine  that  it  is  only  by  continual  watchfulness  and 
attention,  and  with  incredible  fatigue,  they  can  maintain  their 
position  amid  the  howling  tempest  and  the  obscurity  of  night- 
The  truth,  however,  is,  that  unconscious  of  danger,  and  defying  the 
storm,  they  sleep  amid  the  war  of  winds.  Boreas  himself  fixes 
them  to  the  branch  from  which  we  every  moment  expect  to  see 
them  hurled ;  and,  like  the  veteran  mariner  whose  hammock  is 

1  The  reader  is  acquainted  with  the  cry  of  the  Roman  populace  :  "Away  with 
the  Christians  to  the  lions  !"     See  Tertullian's  Apology. 

2  The  truth  of  this  observation  may  be  ascertained  by  an  experiment  on  the 
foot  of  a  dead  bird. 


U4  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

slung  to  the  masts  of  a  vessel,  the  more  they  are  rocked  by  the 
hurricane  the  more  profound  are  their  slumbers. 

With  respect  to  the  organization  of  fishes,  their  very  existence 
in  the  watery  element,  and  the  relative  change  in  their  weight, 
which  enables  them  to  float  in  water  of  greater  or  less  gravity, 
and  to  descend  from  the  surface  to  the  lowest  depths  of  the  abyss, 
are  perpetual  wonders.  The  fish  is  a  real  hydrostatic  machine, 
displaying  a  thousand  phenomena  by  means  of  a  small 
which  it  empties  or  replenishes  with  air  at  pleasure. 

The  flowering  of  plants,  and  the  use  of  the  leaves  and  roots, 
are  also  prodigies  which  afford  Nieuwentyt  a  curious  subject  of 
investigation.  He  makes  this  striking  observation :  that  the  seeds 
of  plants  are  so  disposed  by  their  figure  and  weight  as  to  fall  in 
variably  upon  the  ground  in  the  position  which  is  favorable  to 
germination. 

Now  if  all  things  were  the  production  of  chance,  would  nol 
some  change  be  occasionally  witnessed  in  the  final  causes?  Why 
should  there  not  be  fishes  without  the  air-bladder,  which  gives 
them  the  faculty  of  floating?  And  why  would  not  the  eaglet, 
that  as  yet  has  no  need  of  weapons,  have  its  shell  broken  by  the 
bill  of  a  dove?  But,  strange  to  relate,  there  is  never  any  mis 
take  or  accident  of  this  sort  in  blind  nature !  In  whatever  way 
you  throw  the  dice,  they  always  turn  up  the  same  numbers.  This 
is  a  strange  fortune,  and  we  strongly  suspect  that  before  it  drew 
the  world  from  the  urn  of  eternity  it  had  already  secretly  arranged 
the  lot  of  every  thing. 

But,  are  there  not  monsters  in  nature,  and  do  they  not  afford 
instances  of  a  departure  from  the  final  cause  ?  True ;  but  take 
notice  that  these  beings  inspire  us  with  horror,  so  powerful  is  the 
instinct  of  the  Deity  in  man— so  easily  is  he  shocked  when  he 
does  not  perceive  in  an  object  the  impress  of  his  Supreme  Intel 
ligence  !  Some  have  pretended  to  derive  from  these  irregulari 
ties  an  objection  against  Providence;  but  we  consider  them,  on 
the  contrary,  as  a  manifest  confirmation  of  that  very  Providence 
In  our  opinion,  Grod  has  permitted  this  distortion  of  matter  ex 
pressly  for  the  purpose  of  teaching  us  what  the  creation  would 
be  without  Him.  It  is  the  shadow  that  gives  greater  effect  to 
the  light — a  specimen  of  those  laws  of  chance  which,  according 
to  atheists,  brought  forth  the  universe. 


INSTINCTS    OF   ANIMALS.  U5 


CHAPTER   IV. 

INSTINCTS    OF    ANIMALS. 

HAVING  discovered  in  the  organization  of  beings  a  regular 
plan,  which  cannot  possibly  be  ascribed  to  chance,  and  which  pre 
supposes  a  directing  mind,  we  will  pass  to  the  examination  of 
other  final  causes,  which  are  neither  less  prolific  nor  less  wonder 
ful  than  the  preceding.  Here  we  shall  present  the  result  of  our 
own  investigations,  of  a  study  which  we  would  never  have  inter 
rupted  had  not  Providence  called  us  to  other  occupations.  We 
were  desirous,  if  possible,  of  producing  a  Religious  Natural  His 
tory,  in  opposition  to  all  those  modern  scientific  works  in  which 
mere  matter  is  considered.  That  we  might  not  be  contemptu 
ously  reproached  with  ignorance,  we  resolved  to  travel,  and  to  see 
every  object  with  our  own  eyes.  We  shall,  therefore,  introduce 
some  of  our  observations  on  the  different  instincts  of  animals  and 
of  plants, — on  their  habits,  migrations,  and  loves.  The  field  of 
nature  cannot  be  exhausted.  We  always  find  there  a  new  har 
vest.  It  is  not  in  a  menagerie,  where  the  secrets  of  God  are 
kept  encaged,  that  we  acquire  a  knowledge  of  the  divine  wisdom. 
To  become  deeply  impressed  with  its  existence,  we  must  contem 
plate  it  in  the  deserts.  How  can  a  man  return  an  infidel  from 
the  regions  of  solitude  ?  Wo  to  the  traveller  who,  after  making 
the  circuit  of  the  globe,  would  come  back  an  atheist  to  the  pater 
nal  roof!  Was  it  possible  for  us,  when  we  penetrated  at  midnight 
into  the  solitary  vale  inhabited  by  beavers  and  overshadowed  by 
the  fir-tree,' and  where  reigned  a  profound  silence  under  the  mild 
glare  of  the  moon,  as  peaceful  as  the  people  whose  labors  it  illu 
mined — was  it  possible  for  us  not  to  discover  in  this  valley  some 
trace  of  a  divine  Intelligence?  Who,  then,  placed  the  square 
and  the  level  in  the  eye  of  that  animal  which  has  the  sagacity  to 
construct  a  dam,  shelving  toward  the  water  and  perpendicular 
on  the  opposite  side?  What  philosopher  taught  this  singular 
engineer  the  laws  of  hydraulics,  and  made  him  so  expert  with  his 
incisive  teeth  and  his  flattened  tail  ?  Reaumur  never  foretold  the 
i«  K 


•J46  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

vicissitudes  of  the  seasons  with  the  accuracy  of  this  same  beaver, 
whose  stores,  more  or  less  copious,  indicate  in  the  month  of  June 
the  longer  or  shorter  duration  of  the  ices  of  January.  Alas !  by 
questioning  the  divine  Omnipotence,  men  have  struck  with  ste 
rility  all  the  works  of  the  Almighty.  Atheism  has  extinguished 
with  its  icy  breath  the  lire  of  nature  which  it  undertook  to  kin 
dle.  In  breathing  upon  creation,  it  has  enveloped  it  in  its  own 
characteristic  darkness. 

There  are  other  facts  connected  with  animal  instinct,  which, 
though  more  common,  and  falling  daily  under  our  observation,  are 
not  the  less  wonderful.  The  hen,  for  instance,  which  is  so  timid, 
assumes  the  courage  of  a  lion  when  it  is  question  of  defending 
her  young.  How  interesting  to  behold  her  solicitude  and  excite 
ment  when,  deceived  by  the  treasures  of  another  nest,  little 
strangers  escape  from  her,  and  hasten  to  sport  in  the  neighboring 
lake !  The  terrified  mother  runs  round  the  brink,  claps  her 
wings,  calls  back  her  imprudent  brood,  sometimes  entreating  with 
tenderness,  sometimes  clucking  with  authority.  She  walks  hastily 
on,  then  pauses,  turns  her  head  with  anxiety,  and  is  not  pacified 
till  she  has  collected  beneath  her  wings  her  weakly  and  dripping 
family,  which  will  soon  give  her  fresh  cause  of  alarm. 

Among  the  various  instincts  which  the  Master  of  life  has  dis 
pensed  throughout  the  animal  world,  one  of  the  most  extraordi 
nary  is  that  which  leads  the  fishes  from  the  icy  regions  of  the 
pole  to  a  milder  latitude,  which  they  find  without  losing  their 
way  over  the  vast  desert  of  the  ocean,  and  appear  punctually  in 
the  river  where  their  union  is  to  be  celebrated.  Spring,  directed 
by  the  Sovereign  of  the  seas,  prepares  on  our  shores  the  nuptial 
pomp.  She  crowns  the  willows  with  verdure;  she  covers  the 
grottos  with  moss,  and  expands  on  the  surface  of  the  waves  the 
foliage  of  the  water-lily,  to  serve  as  curtains  to  these  beds  of 
crystal.  Scarcely  are  these  preparations  completed,  when  the 
scaly  tribes  make  their  appearance.  These  foreign  navigators 
animate  all  our  shores.  Some,  like  light  bubbles  of  air,  ascend 
perpendicularly  from  the  bosom  of  the  deep;  others  gently  ba 
lance  themselves  on  the  waves,  or  diverge  from  one  common  cen 
tre,  like  innumerable  stripes  of  gold.  These  dart  their  gliding 
forms  obliquely  through  the  azure  fluid;  those  sleep  in  a  sunbeam 
which  penetrates  the  silvery  gauze  of  the  billows.  Perpetually 


SONG    OF   BIRDS.  147 


wandering  to  and  fro,  they  swim,  they  dive,  they  turti  round,  they 
form  into  squadrons,  they  separate  and  rgain  unite;  and  the  in 
habitant  of  the  seas,  endued  with  the  breath  of  life,  follows  with 
a  bound  the  fiery  track  left  for  him  by  his  beloved  in  the  waves. 


CHAPTER  V. 

4ONG    OF    BIRDS — IT    IS    MADE    FOR    MAN — LAWS    RELATIVE    TO 
THE    CRY   OF    ANIMALS. 

NATURE  has  her  seasons  of  festivity,  for  which  she  assembles 
musicians  frT>m  all  the  regions  of  the  globe.  Skilful  performers 
with  their  wondrous  sonatas,  itinerant  minstrels  who  can  only  sing 
short  ballads,  pilgrims  who  repeat  a  thousand  and  a  thousand 
times  the  couplets  of  their  long  solemn  songs,  are  beheld  flocking 
together  from  all  quarters.  The  thrush  whistles,  the  swallow 
twitters,  the  ringdove  coos:  the  first,  perched  on  the  topmost 
branch  of  an  elm,  defies  our  solitary  blackbird,  who  is  in  no 
respect  inferior  to  the  stranger;  the  second,  lodged  under  some 
hospitable  roof,  utters  his  confused  cries,  as  in  the  days  of  Evan- 
der;  the  third,  concealed  amid  the  foliage  of  an  oak,  prolongs  her 
soft  meanings  like  the  undulating  sound  of  a  horn  in  the  forests. 
The  redbreast,  meanwhile,  repeats  her  simple  strain  on  the  barn 
door,  where  she  has  built  her  compact  and  mossy  nest;  but  the 
nightingale  disdains  to  waste  her  lays  amid  this  symphony.  She 
waits  till  night  has  imposed  silence,  and  takes  upon  herself  that 
portion  of  the  festival  which  is  celebrated  in  its  shades. 

When  the  first  silence  of  night  and  the  last  murmurs  of  day 
struggle  for  the  mastery  on  the  hills,  on  the  banks  of  the  rivers, 
in  the  woods  and  in  the  valleys;  when  the  forests  have  hushed 
their  thousand  voices;  when  not  a  whisper  is  heard  among  the 
leaves ;  when  the  moon  is  high  in  the  heavens,  and  the  ear  of 
man  is  all  attention, — then  Philomela,  the  first  songstress  of  crea 
tion,  begins  her  hymn  to  the  Eternal.  She  first  strikes  the  echoes 
with  lively  bursts  of  pleasure.  Disorder  pervades  her  strains. 
She  pusses  abruptly  from  flat  to  sharp,  from  soft  to  loud.  She 


14g  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

pauses;  now  she  is  slow  and  now  quick.     It  is  the  expression  of 
a  heart  intoxicated  with  joy-a  heart  palpitating  under  the  pre 
sure  of  love.     But  her  voice  suddenly  fails.     The  bird  i 
She  begins  again ;  but  how  changed  are  her  accents !     What  ten- 
der  melody !     Sometimes  you  hear  a  languid  modulation,  thou 
varied  in  its  form;  sometimes  a  tune  more  monotonous,  like  the 
chorus  of  our  ancient  ballads— those  master-pieces  of  simplicity 
and  melancholy.    Singing  is  as  often  an  expression  of  sadness  as 
of  joy.     The  bird  that  has  lost  her  young  still  sings, 
repeats  the  notes  of  her  happy  days,  for  she  knows  no  other ;  but, 
by  a  stroke  of  her  art,  the  musician  has  merely  changed  her  key, 
and  the  song  of  pleasure  is  converted  into  the  lamentation  of  grief. 
It  would  be  very  gratifying  to  those  who  seek  to  disinherit  man 
and  to  snatch  from  him  the  empire  of  nature,  if  they  could  prove 
that  nothing  has  been  made  for  him.     But  the  song  W  birds,  for 
example,  is  ordained  so  expressly  for  our  ears,  that  in  vain  we 
persecute  these  tenants  of  the  woods,  in  vain  we  rob  them  of  their 
nests,  pursue,  wound,  and  entangle  them  in  snares.    We  may  give 
them  the  acutest  pain,  but  we  cannot  compel  them  to  be  silent. 
In  spite  of  OUT  cruelty,  they  cannot  forbear  to  charm  us,  as  they 
are  obliged  to  fulfil  the  decree  of  Providence.     When  held  cap 
tives  in  our  houses,  they  multiply  their  notes.     There  must  bo 
some  secret  harmony  in  adversity;  for  all  the  victims  of  misfov- 
tune  are  inclined  to  sing.     Even  when  the  bird-catcher,  with  a 
refinement  of  barbarity,  scoops  out  the  eyes  of  a  nightingale,  it 
has  the  extraordinary  effect  of  rendering  his  voice  still  more  me 
lodious.     This  Homer  of  the  feathered  tribes  earns  a  subsistence 
by  singing,  and  composes  his  most  enchanting  airs  after  he  has 
lost  his  sight.     "  Demodocus,"  says  the  poet  of  Chios,  describing 
himself  in  the  person  of  the  Phaeacian  bard,  "  was  beloved  by  the 
Muse ;  but  she  bestowed  upon  him  the  good  and  the  bad.     She 
deprived  him  of  the  blessing  of  sight,  but  she  gave  him  the 
sweetness  of  song." 

Tov  mpt  povi  £<pi\r]ff£,  hfav  <5'  ayaSov  re,  KUKOVTC, 
O^a\fjiwv  ptv,  a^pac,  <5«5ou  6'rj^eiav  aoibr]v. 

The  bird  seems  to  be  the  true  emblem  of  the  Christian  here 
below.  Like  him,  it  prefers  solitude  to  the  world,  heaven  to  earth, 
and  its  voice  is  ever  occupied  in  celebrating  the  wonders  of  the 
Creator,  There  are  certain  laws  relative  to  the  cries  of  animals, 


SONG  OF  BIRDS.  149 


which  we  believe  have  not  yet  been  observed,  though  they  are 
highly  deserving  of  notice.  The  varied  language  of  the  inhabit 
ants  of  the  desert  appears  to  be  adapted  to  the  grandeur  or  the 
charms  of  the  places  in  which  they  live,  and  to  the  hours  of  the 
day  at  which  they  make  their  appearance.  The  roaring  of  the 
lion,  loud,  rough,  and  harsh,  is  in  accordance  with  the  burning 
regions,  where  it  is  heard  at  sunset;  while  the  lowing  of  our 
cattle  charms  the  rural  echoes  of  our  valleys.  The  bleating  of 
the  goat  has  in  it  something  tremulous  and  wild,  like  the  rocks 
and  ruins  among  which  he  loves  to  climb ;  the  warlike  horse 
imitates  the  shrill  sound  of  the  clarion,  and,  as  if  sensible  that  he 
was  not  made  for  rustic  occupations,  he  is  silent  under  the  lash 
of  the  husbandman,  and  neighs  beneath  the  bridle  of  the  warrior. 
Night,  according  as  it  is  pleasant  or  gloomy,  brings  forth  the 
nightingale  or  the  owl ;  the  one  seems  to  sing  for  the  zephyrs, 
the  groves,  the  moon,  and  for  lovers;  the  other  hoots  for  the 
winds,  aged  forests,  darkness,  and  death.  In  short,  almost  all 
carnivorous  animals  have  a  particular  cry,  which  resembles  that 
of  their  prey :  the  sparrow-hawk  squeaks  like  the  rabbit  and 
mews  like  a  kitten ;  the  cat  herself  has  a  kind  of  whining  tone 
like  that  of  the  little  birds  of  our  gardens;  the  wolf  bleats,  lows, 
or  barks;  the  fox  clucks  or  cries;  the  tiger  imitates  the  bellow 
ing  of  the  bull ;  and  the  sea-bear  has  a  kind  of  frightful  roar,  like 
the  noise  of  the  breakers  among  which  he  seeks  his  prey.  The 
law  of  which  we  speak  is  very  astonishing,  and  perhaps  conceals 
some  tremendous  secret.  We  may  observe  that  monsters  among 
men  follow  the  same  law  as  carnivorous  animals.  There  have 
been  many  instances  of  tyrants  who  exhibited  some  mark  of  sen 
sibility  in  their  countenance  and  voice,  and  who  affected  the  lan 
guage  of  the  unhappy  creatures  whose  destruction  they  were  me 
ditating.  Providence,  however,  has  ordained  that  we  should  not 
be  absolutely  deceived  by  men  of  this  savage  character :  we  have 
only  to  examine  them  closely,  to  discover,  under  the  garb  of  mild 
ness,  an  air  of  falsehood  and  rapacity  a  thousand  times  more 
hideous  than  their  fury  itself. 

13* 


GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

NESTS   OP   BIRDS 

How  admirably  is  the  providence  of  the  great  Creator  displayed 
in  the  nests  of  birds  !  Who  can  contemplate  without  emotion 
this  divine  beneficence,  which  imparts  industry  to  the  weak  and 
foresight  to  the  thoughtless  ? 

No  sooner  have  the  trees  expanded  their  first  blossoms,  than  a 
thousand  diminutive  artisans  begin  their  labors  on  every  side. 
Some  convey  long  straws  into  the  hole  of  an  ancient  wall;  others 
construct  buildings  in  the  windows  of  a  church;  others,  again, 
rob  the  horse  of  his  hair,  or  carry  off  the  wool  torn  by  the  jagged 
thorn  from  the  back  of  the  sheep.     There  wood-cutters  arrange 
small  twigs  in  the  waving  summit  of  a  tree;  here  spinsters  col 
lect  silk  from  a  thistle.     A  thousand  palaces  are  reared,  and 
every  palace  is  a  nest ;  while  each  nest  witnesses  the  most  pleas 
ing  changes;  first  a  brilliant  egg,  then  a  young  one  covered  with 
down.     This  tender  nestling  becomes  fledged;  his  mother  in 
structs  him  by  degrees  to  rise  up  on  his  bed.     He  soon  acquires 
strength  to  perch  on  the  edge  of  his  cradle,  from  which  he  takes 
the  first  survey  of  nature.     With  mingled  terror  and  transport, 
he  drops  down  among  his  brothers  and  sisters,  who  have  not  yet 
beheld  this  magnificent  sight;  but,  summoned  by  the  voice  of  his 
parents,  he  rises  a  second  time  from  his  couch,  and  this  youthful 
monarch  of  the  air,  whose  head  is  still  encircled  by  the  crown  of 
infancy,  already  ventures  to  contemplate  the  waving  summits  of 
the  pines  and  the  abysses  of  verdure  beneath  the  paternal  oak. 
But,  while  the  forests  welcome  with  pleasure  their  new  guest, 
some  aged  bird,  who  feels  his  strength  forsake  him,  alights  beside 
the  current;    there,  solitary  and  resigned,   he  patiently  awaits 
death,  on  the  brink  of  the  same  stream  where  he  sang  his  first 
loves,  and  beneath  the  trees  which  still  bear  his  nest  and  his  har 
monious  posterity. 

We  will    notice    here    another  law  of   nature.      Among    the 
smaller  species  of  birds,  the  eggs  are  comironly  tinged  with  one 


NESTS  OF  BIRDS.  151 

of  the  prevailing  colors  of  the  male.  The  bullfinch  builds  in  the 
hawthorn,  the  gooseberry,  and  other  bushes  of  our  gardens;  her 
eggs  are  slate-colored,  like  the  plumage  of  her  back.  We  recol 
lect  having  once  found  one  of  these  nests  in  a  rose-bush  :  it  re- 
sembled  a  shell  of  mother-of-pearl  containing  four  blue  gems;  a 
rose,  bathed  in  the  dews  of  morning,  was  suspended  above  it: 
the  male  bullfinch  sat  motionless  on  a  neighboring  shrub,  like  a 
flower  of  purple  and  azure.  These  objects  were  reflected  in  the 
water  of  a  stream,  together  with  the  shade  of  an  aged  walnut- 
tree,  which  served  as  a  back-ground  to  the  scene,  and  behind 
which  appeared  the  ruddy  tints  of  the  morning.  In  this  little 
picture  the  Almighty  presented  us  an  idea  of  .the  graces  with 
which  he  has  decked  all  nature. 

Among  the  larger  birds  the  law  respecting  the  color  of  the  egg 
varies.  We  are  of  opinion  that,  in  general,  the  egg  is  white 
among  those  birds  the  male  of  which  has  several  females,^  or 
among  those  whose  plumage  has  no  fixed  color  for  the  species. 
Among  those  which  frequent  the  waters  and  forests,  and  build 
their  nests  on  the  sea  or  on  the  summits  of  lofty  trees,  the  egg  is 
generally  of  a  bluish  green,  and,  as  it  were,  of  the  same  tint  as 
the  elements  by  which  it  is  surrounded.  Certain  birds,  which 
reside  on  the  tops  of  ancient  and  deserted  towers,  have  green  eggs 
like  ivy,1  or  reddish  like  the  old  buildings  they  inhabit.3  It  is, 
therefore,  a  law,  which  may  be  considered  as  invariable,  that  the 
bird  exhibits  in  her  egg  an  emblem  of  her  loves,  her  habits,  and 
her  destinies.  The  mere  inspection  of  this  brittle  monument  will 
almost  enable  us  to  determine  to  what  tribe  it  belonged,  what  were 
its  dress,  habits,  and  tastes ;  whether  it  passed  its  days  amid  the 
dangers  of  the  sea,  or,  more  fortunate,  among  the  charms  of  a  pas 
toral  life;  whether  it  was  tame  or  wild,  and  inhabited  the  moun 
tain  or  the  valley.  The  antiquary  of  the  forest  is  conducted  by 
a  science  much  less  equivocal  than  the  antiquary  of  the  city:  a 
scathed  oak,  with  all  its  mosses,  proclaims  much  more  plainly  the 
hand  that  gave  it  existence  than  a  ruined  column  declares  by 
what  architect  it  was  reared.  Among  men,  tombs  are  so  many 
leaves  of  their  history;  Nature,  on  the  contrary,  records  her  facts 
on  living  tablets.  She  has  no  need  of  granite  or  marble  to  per- 

'  The  jack-daw  and  others.  2  The  white  owl,  Ac. 


152  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

petuate  her  writings.  Time  has  destroyed  the  annals  of  the 
sovereigns  of  Memphis,  once  inscribed  on  their  funereal  pyra 
mids,  but  has  it  been  able  to  efface  a  single  letter  of  the  history 
marked  on  the  egg-shell  of  the  Egyptian  ibis  ? 


CHAPTER  VII. 

MIGRATIONS     OP      BIRDS — AQUATIC     BIRDS THEIR      HABITS — 

GOODNESS    OF   PROVIDENCE. 

THE  reader  is  acquainted  with  the  following  charming  lines  of 
the  younger  Racine  on  the  migration  of  birds : — 

Ceux  qui,  de  nos  hivers  redoutant  le  courroux, 
Vont  se  reTugier  dans  des  climats  plus  doux, 
Ne  laisseront  jamais  la  saison  rigoureuse 
Surprendre  parmi  nous  leur  troupe  paresseuse. 
Dans  un  sage  conseil  par  les  chefs  assemble, 
Du  depart  general  le  grand  jour  est  regie; 
II  arrive;  tout  part;  le  plus  jeune  peut-Stre 
Demande,  en  regardant  les  lieux  qui  1'ont  vu  naitre, 
Quand  viendra  le  printemps  par  qui  tant  d'exiles 
Dans  les  champs  paternels  se  verront  rappeles!1 

We  have  known  unfortunate  persons  whose  eyes  would  be  suf 
fused  with  tears  in  reading  the  concluding  lines.  The  exile  pre 
scribed  by  nature  is  not  like  that  which  is  ordered  by  man.  If 
the  bird  is  sent  away  for  a  moment,  it  is  only  for  its  own  advan 
tage.  It  sets  out  with  its  neighbors,  its  parents,  its  sisters  and 
brothers;  it  leaves  nothing  behind;  it  carries  with  it  all  the  ob 
jects  of  its  affection.  In  the  desert  it  finds  a  subsistence  and  a 
habitation;  the  forests  are  not  armed  against  it;  and  it  returns, 
at  last,  to  die  on  the  spot  which  gave  it  birth.  There  it  finds  again 
the  river,  the  tree,  the  nest,  and  the  sun,  of  its  forefathers.  But 

1  Those  which,  dreading  the  rigors  of  our  winters,  repair  to  a  more  genial 
climate,  will  never  suffer  their  tardy  troop  to  be  overtaken  by  the  inclement 
season.  Assembled  in  prudent  council  by  their  chiefs,  the  great  day  of  their 
general  departure  is  fixed.  It  arrives;  the  whole  tribe  departs  :  the  youngest 
perhaps  inquires,  while  he  casts  his  eyes  over  his  native  fields,  when  spring 
will  arrive,  to  recall  so  many  exiles  to  their  paternal  plains. 


MIGRATIONS  OF  BIRDS.  153 

is  the  mortal,  driven  from  his  native  home,  sure  of  revisiti  ig  it 
again  ?  Alas !  man,  in  coming  into  the  world,  knows  not  what 
corner  of  the  earth  will  collect  his  ashes,  nor  in  what  direction 
the  breath  of  misfortune  will  scatter  them.  Happy  still,  indeed, 
if  he  only  could  expire  in  peace.  But  no  sooner  does  fortune 
frown  upon  him  than  he  becomes  an  object  of  persecution;  and 
the  particular  injustice  which  he  suffers  becomes  general.  He 
finds  not,  like  the  bird,  hospitality  in  his  way;  he  knocks,  but  no 
one  opens;  he  has  no  place  to  rest  his  weary  limbs,  except,  per 
haps,  the  post  on  the  highway,  or  the  stone  that  marks  the  limit 
of  some  plantation.  But  sometimes  he  is  denied  even  this  place 
of  repose,  which  would  seem  to  belong  to  no  one;  he  is  forced 
onward,  and  the  proscription  which  has  banished  him  from  his 
country  seems  to  have  expelled  him  from  the  world.  He  dies, 
and  has  none  to  bury  him.  His  corpse  lies  forsaken  on  its  hard 
couch,  whence  the  commissioner  is  obliged  to  have  it  removed, 
not  as  the  body  of  a  man,  but  as  a  nuisance  dangerous  to  the 
living.  Ah !  how  much  happier,  did  he  expire  in  a  ditch  neai  the 
way-side,  that  the  good  Samaritan  might  throw,  as  he  passes,  a 
little  foreign  earth  upon  his  remains !  Let  us  place  all  our  hope  in 
heaven,  and  we  shall  no  longer  be  afraid  of  exile :  in  religion  we 
invariably  find  a  country ! 

While  one  part  of  the  creation  daily  publishes  in  the  same 
place  the  praises  of  the  Creator,  another  travels  from  one  country 
to  another  to  relate  his  wonders.  Couriers  traverse  the  air,  glide 
through  the  waters,  and  speed  their  course  over  mountains  and 
valleys.  Some,  borne  on  the  wings  of  spring,  show  themselves 
among  us;  then,  disappearing  with  the  zephyrs,  follow  their  mova 
ble  country  from  climate  to  climate.  Others  repair  to  the  habi 
tation  of  man,  as  travellers  from  distant  climes,  and  claim  the 
rio-hts  of  ancient  hospitality.  Each  follows  his  inclination  in  the 
choice  of  a  spot.  The  redbreast  applies  at  the  cottage ;  the  swal 
low  knocks  at  the  palace  of  royal  descent.  She  still  seems  to 
court  an  appearance  of  grandeur,  but  of  grandeur  melancholy 
like  her  fate.  She  passes  the  summer  amid  the  ruins  of  Ver 
sailles  and  the  winter  among  those  of  Tlu  bes. 

Scarcely  has  she  disappeared  when  we  behold  a  colony  advanc 
ing  upon  the  winds  of  the  north,  to  supply  the  place  of  the  tra 
vellers  to  the  south,  that  no  vacancy  may  be  left  in  our  fields.  On 


154  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY 

some  hoary  day  of  autumn,  when  the  northeast  wind  is  sweeping 
over  the  plains  and  the  woods  are  losing  the  last  remains  of  their 
foliage,  you  will  see  a  flock  of  wild  ducks,  all  ranged  in  a  line, 
traversing  in  silence  the  sombre  sky.  If  they  perceive,  while 
aloft  in  the  air,  some  Gothic  castle  surrounded  by  marshes  and 
forests,  it  is  there  they  prepare  to  descend.  They  wait  till 
night,  making  long  evolutions  over  the  woods.  Soon  as  the 
vapors  of  eve  enshroud  the  valley,  with  outstretched  neck  and 
whizzing  wing  they  suddenly  alight  on  the  waters,  which  resound 
with  their  noise.  A  general  cry,  succeeded  by  profound  silence, 
rises  from  the  marshes.  Guided  by  a  faint  light,  which  perhaps 
gleams  through  the  narrow  window  of  a  tower,  the  travellers  ap 
proach  its  walls  under  the  protection  of  the  reeds  and  the  dark 
ness.  There,  clapping  their  wings  and  screaming  at  intervals, 
amid  the  murmur  of  the  winds  and  the  rain,  they  salute  the  habi 
tation  of  man. 

One  of  the  handsomest  among  the  inhabitants  of  these  soli 
tudes  is  the  water-hen.  Her  peregrinations,  however,  are  not  so 
distant.  She  appears  on  the  border  of  the  sedges,  buries  herself 
in  their  labyrinths,  appears  and  vanishes  again,  uttering  a  low, 
wild  cry.  She  is  seen  walking  along  the  ditches  of  the  castle, 
and  is  fond  of  perching  on  the  coats  of  arms  sculptured  on  the 
walls.  When  she  remains  motionless  upon  them,  you  would  take 
her,  with  her  sable  plumage  and  the  white  patch  on  her  head,  for 
a  heraldic  bird,  fallen  from  the  escutcheon  of  an  ancient  knight. 
At  the  approach  of  spring,  she  retires  to  unfrequented  streams. 
The  root  of  some  willow  that  has  been  undermined  by  the  waters 
affords  an  asylum  to  the  wanderer.  She  there  conceals  herself 
from  every  eye,  to  accomplish  the  grand  law  of  nature.  The  con 
volvulus,  the  mosses,  the  water  maidenhair,  suspend  a  verdant 
drapery  before  her  nest.  The  cress  and  the  lentil  supply  her 
with  a  delicate  food.  The  soft  murmuring  of  the  water  soothes 
her  ear;  beautiful  insects  amuse  her  eye,  and  the  Naiads  of  the 
stream,  the  more  completely  to  conceal  this  youthful  mother, 
plant  around  her  their  distaffs  of  reeds,  covered  with  empurpled 
wool. 

Among  these  travellers  from  the  north,  there  are  some  that 
become  accustomed  to  our  manners,  and  refuse  to  return  tc  their 
native  land  Some,  like  the  companions  of  Ulysses,  are  japti- 


MIGRATIONS    OF   BIRDS.  155 

vated  by  delicious  fruits;  others,  like  the  deserters  from  the  ves 
sels  of  the  1-ritish  circumnavigator,  are  seduced  by  enchantresses 
that  detain  them  in  their  islands.  Most  of  them,  however,  leave 
us  after  a  residence  of  a  few  months.  They  are  attached  to  the 
winds  and  the  storms  which  disturb  the  pellucid  stream,  and 
afford  them  that  prey  which  would  escape  from  them  in  transpa 
rent  waters.  They  love  wild  and  unexplored  retreats,  and  make 
the  circuit  of  the  globe  by  a  series  of  solitudes. 

Fitness  for  the  scenes  of  nature,  or  adaptation  to  the  wants  of 
man,  determines  the  different  migrations  of  animals.  The  birds 
that  appear  in  the  months  of  storms  have  dismal  voices  and  wild 
manners,  like  the  season  which  brings  them.  They  come  not  to 
be  heard,  but  to  listen.  There  is  something  in  the  dull  roaring 
of  the  woods  that  charms  their  ear.  The  trees  which  mournfully 
wave  their  leafless  summits  are  covered  only  with  the  sable  le 
gions  which  have  associated  for  the  winter.  They  have  their 
sentinels  and  their  advanced  guards.  Frequently  a  crow  that  has 
seen  a  hundred  winters,  the  ancient  Sybil  of  the  deserts;  remains 
perched  on  an  oak  which  has  grown  old  with  herself.  There, 
while  all  her  sisters  maintain  a  profound  silence,  motionless,  and, 
as  it  were,  full  of  thought,  she  delivers  prophetic  sounds  to 
the  winds. 

It  is  worthy  of  remark  that  the  teal,  the  goose,  the  duck,  the 
woodcock,  the  plover,  the  lapwing,  which  serve  us  for  food,  all 
arrive  when  the  earth  is  bare;  while,  on  the  contrary,  the  foreign 
birds,  which  visit  us  in  the  season  of  fruits,  administer  only  to 
our  pleasures.  They  are  musicians  sent  to  enhance  the  joy  of 
our  banquets.  We  must,  however,  except  a  few,  such  as  the 
quail  and  the  wood-pigeon,  (though  the  season  for  taking  them 
does  not  commence  till  after  the  harvest,)  which  fatten  on  our 
corn,  that  they  may  afterward  supply  our  table.  Thus  the  birds 
of  winter  are  the  manna  of  the  rude  northern  blasts,  as  the  night 
ingales  are  the  gift  of  the  zephyrs.  From  whatever  point  of  the 
compass  the  wind  may  blow,  it  fails  not  to  bring  us  a  present 
from  Providence. 


GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER   VIII. 

SEA-FOWL— IN  WHAT  MANNER  SERVICEABLE  TO  MAN— IN 
ANCIENT  TIMES  THE  MIGRATIONS  OF  BIRDS  SERVED  AS  A 
CALENDAR  TO  THE  HUSBANDMAN. 

THE  goose  and  the  duck,  being  domestic  animals,  are  capable 
of  living  wherever  man  can  exist.  Navigators  have  found  innu 
merable  battalions  of  these  birds  under  the  antarctic  pole  itself, 
and  on  the  coasts  of  New  Zealand.  We  have  ourselves  met 
with  thousands,  from  the  Gulf  of  St.  Lawrence  to  the  extremity 
of  Florida.  We  beheld  one  day,  in  the  Azores,  a  company  of 
little -bluebirds,  of  the  species  of  teal,  that  were  compelled  by 
fatigue  to  alight  on  a  wild  fig-tree.  The  tree  had  no  leaves,  but 
its  red  fruit  hung  chained  together  in  pairs  like  crystals.  When 
it  was  covered  by  this  flock  of  birds,  that  dropped  their  weary 
wings,  it  exhibited  a  very  pleasing  appearance.  The  fruit,  sus 
pended  from  the  shadowed  branches,  seemed  to  have  the  color  of 
a  brilliant  purple,  while  the  tree  appeared  all  at  once  clothed  with 
the  richest  foliage  of  azure. 

Sea-fowl  have  places  of  rendezvous  where  you  would  imagine 
they  were  deliberating  in  common  on  the  affairs  of  their  republic. 
.  These  places  are  commonly  the  rocks  in  the  midst  of  the  waves. 
In  the  island  of  St.  Pierre,1  we  used  often  to  station  ourselves  on 
the  coast  opposite  to  an  islet  called  by  the  natives  Cohmbier, 
(Pigeon-house,')  on  account  of  its  form,  and  because  they  repair 
thither  in  spring  for  the  purpose  of  gathering  eggs. 

The  multitude  of  birds  that  assemble  on  that  rock  was  so  great 
that  we  could  frequently  distinguish  their  cries  amid  the  howl- 
ings  of  the  tempests.  These  birds  had  an  extraordinary  voice, 
resembling  the  sounds  that  issued  from  the  sea.  If  the  ocean 
has  its  Flora,  it  has  likewise  its  Philomela.  When  the  curlew 
whistles  at  sunset  on  the  point  of  some  rock,  accompanied  by  the 
hollow  murmur  of  the  billows,  which  forms  the  bass  to  the  con 
cert,  it  produces  one  of  the  most  melancholy  harmonies  that  can 

At  the  entrance  of  the  Gul    rf  St.  Lawrence,  on  the  coast  of  Newfoundland. 


SEA-FOWL.  157 

possibly  be  conceived      Never  did  the  wife  of  Ceix  breathe  forth 
such  lamentations  on  the  shores  that  witnessed  her  misfortunes. 

The  best  understanding  prevailed  in  the  republic  of  Colombier. 
Immediately  after  the  birth  of  a  citizen,  his  mother  precipitated 
him  into  the  waves,  like  those  barbarous  nations  who  plunged 
their  children  into  the  river  to  inure  them  to  the  fatigues  of  life. 
Couriers  were  incessantly  despatched  from  this  Tyre  with  nu 
merous  attendants,  who,  under  the  direction  of  Providence, 
sought  different  points  in  the  ocean,  for  the  guidance  of  the  mari 
ner!'  Some,  stationed  at  the  distance  of  forty  or  fifty  leagues 
from  an  unknown  land,  serve  as  a  certain  indication  to  the  pilot, 
who  discovers  them  like  corks  floating  on  the  waves.  Others 
settle  on  a  reef,  and  in  the  night  these  vigilant  sentinels  raise  their 
doleful  voices  to  warn  the  navigator  to  stand  off;  while  others, 
again,  by  the  whiteness  of  their  plumage,  form  real  beacons  upon 
the  black  surface  of  the  rocks.  For  the  same  reason,  we  pre 
sume,  has  the  goodness  of  the  Almighty  given  to  the  foam  of  the 
waves  a  phosphoric  property,  rendering  it  more  luminous  among 
breakers  in  proportion  to  the  violence  of  the  tempest.  How 
many  vessels  would  perish  amid  the  darkness  were  it  not  for 
these  wonderful  beacons  kindled  by  Providence  on  the  rocks^! 

All  the  accidents  of  the  seas,  the  flux  and  reflux  of  the  tide, 
and  the  alternations  of  calm  and  storm,  are  predicted  by  birds. 
The  thrush  alights  on  a  desolate  shore,  draws  her  neck  under  her 
plumage,  conceals  one  foot  in  her  down,  and,  standing  motionless , 
on  the  other,  apprises  the  fisherman  of  the  moment  when  the  bil 
lows  are  rising.  The  sea-lark,  skimming  the  surface  of  the  wave, 
and  uttering  a  soft  and  melancholy  cry,  announces,  on  the  con 
trary,  the  moment  of  their  reflux.  Lastly,  the  little  storm -bird 
stations  herself  in  the  midst  of  the  ocean.1  This  faithful  com 
panion  of  the  mariner  follows  the  course  of  ships  and  predicts 
the  storm.  The  sailor  ascribes  to  her  something  sacred,  and  reli- 

1  The  procellaria,  or  stormy-petrel,  is  about  the  size  and  form  of  the  house- 
svrallow.  Except  in  breeding  time,  these  birds  are  always  at  sea,  and  are  seen 
on  the  wing  all  over  the  vast  Atlantic  Ocean,  at  the  greatest  distance  from  any 
land.  They  presage  bad  weather,  whence  they  take  their  name,  and  they  cau 
tion  sailors  of  the  approach  of  a  storm  by  collecting  under  the  stern  of  the  ship. 
This  bird  braves  the  utmost  fury  of  the  tempest,  sometimes  skimming  with  in 
credible  velocity  along  the  hollow  and  sometimes  on  the  summit  of  the  waves. 
14 


158  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

giously  fulfils  the  duties  of  hospitality  when  the  violence  of  the 
wind  tosses  her  on  board  his  vessel.  In  like  manner,  the  hus- 
bauduian  pays  respect  to  the  red-breast,  which  predicts  tine  wea- 
ti  er.  In  like  manner,  he  receives  him  beneath  his  thatch  during 
the  intense  cold  of  winter.  These  men,  placed  in  the  two  most 
laborious  conditions  of  life,  have  friends  whom  Providence  has 
prepared  for  them.  From  a  feeble  animal  they  receive  counsel 
and  hope,  which  they  would  often  seek  in  vain  among  their  fellow- 
creatures.  This  reciprocity  of  benefits  between  little  birds  and 
men  struggling  through  the  world,  is  one  of  those  pleasing  inci 
dents  which  abound  in  the  works  of  God.  Between  the  red 
breast  and  the  husbandman,  between  the  storm-bird  and  the  sailor, 
there  is  a  resemblance  of  manners  and  of  fortunes  exceedingly 
affecting.  Oh,  how  dry  and  unmeaning  is  nature  when  explained 
by  the  sophist!  but  how  significant  and  interesting  to  the  simple 
heart  that  investigates  her  wonders  with  no  other  view  than  to 
glorify  the  Creator! 

If  time  and  place  permitted,  we  would  have  many  other  migra 
tions  to  describe,  many  other  secrets  of  Providence  to  reveal.  We 
would  treat  of  the  cranes  of  Florida,  whose  wings  produce  such 
harmonious  sounds,  and  which  steer  their  flight  so  beautifully 
over  lakes,  savannas,  and  groves  of  orange  and  palm-trees;  we 
would  exhibit  the  pelican  of  the  woods,  visiting  the  solitary  dead, 
and  stopping  only  at  Indian  cemeteries  and  hillocks  of  graves; 
we  would  state  the  reasons  of  these  migrations,  which  have  al 
ways  some  reference  to  man;  we  would  mention  the  winds,  the 
seasons  chosen  by  the  birds  for  changing  their  climate,  the  ad 
ventures  they  meet  with,  the  obstacles  they  encounter,  the  disas 
ters  they  undergo;  how  they  sometimes  land  on  unknown  coasts, 
far  from  the  country  to  which  they  were  bound ;  how  they  perish 
on  their  passage  over  forests  consumed  by  the  lightnings  of  hea 
ven  or  plains  fired  by  the  hands  of  savages. 

In  the  early  ages  of  the  world,  it  was  by  the  flowering  of  plants, 
the  fall  of  the  leaves,  the  departure  and  arrival  of  birds,  that  the 
husbandman  and  shepherd  regulated  their  labors.  Hence  arose 
among  certain  people  the  art  of  divination ;  for  it  was  supposed 
that  animals  which  predicted  the  seasons  and  tempests  could  be 
no  other  than  tin  interpreters  of  the  Deity.  The  ancient  natural 
ists  and  poete,  tc  whom  we  are  indebted  for  the  little  simplicity 


SEA  FOWL.  159 


that  is  left  among  us,  show  how  wonderful  was  this  mode  of 
reckoning  by  the  incidents  of  nature,  and  what  a  charm  it  dif 
fused  over  life.  God  is  a  profound  secret;  man,  created  in  his 
image,  is  likewise  incomprehensible;  it  was  therefore  perfectly 
consonant  to  the  nature  of  things  to  see  the  periods  of  his  days 
regulated  by  timekeepers  as  mysterious  as  himself. 

Beneath  the  tents  of  Jacob  or  of  Booz,  the  arrival  of  a  bird 
set  every  thing  in  motion :  the  patriarch  made  the  tour  of  his 
encampment,  at  the  head  of  his  servants,  provided  with  sickles; 
and  if  it  was  rumored  that  the  young  larks  had  been  seen  mak 
ing  their  first  efforts  to  fly,  the  whole  people,  trusting  in  God, 
entered  joyfully  upon  the  harvest.  These  charming  signs,  while 
they  directed  the  labors  of  the  present  season,  had  the  advantage 
of  predicting  the  changes  of  the  succeeding  ones.  If  the  geese 
and  the  ducks  appeared  in  great  numbers,  it  was  known  with 
certainty  that  the  winter  would  be  long.  If  the  crow  began  to 
build  her  nest  in  January,  the  shepherds  expected  in  April  the 
flowers  of  May.  The  marriage  of  a  young  female,  on  the  margin 
of  a  fountain,  had  its  relation  with  the  blooming  flowers ;  and  the 
aged,  who  often  die  in  autumn,  fell  with  the  acorns  and  the  ripe 
fruits.  While  the  philosopher,  curtailing  or  lengthening  the 
year,  made  the  winter  encroach  upon  the  domain  of  spring,  the 
husbandman  had  no  reason  to  apprehend  that  the  bird  or  the 
flower,  the  astronomer  sent  him  by  Heaven,  would  lead  him 
astray.  He  knew  that  the  nightingale  would  not  confound  the 
month  of  frosts  with  that  of  roses,  or  warble  the  strains  of  sum 
mer  at  the  winter  solstice.  Thus  all  the  labors,  all  the  diversions, 
all  the  pleasures  of  the  countryman  were  regulated,  not  by  the 
uncertain  calendar  of  a  philosopher,  but  by  the  infallible  laws  of 
Him  who  has  traced  the  course  of  the  sun.  That  supreme  Di 
rector  himself  decreed  that  the  festivals  of  his  worship  should  be 
determined  by  the  simple  epochs  borrowed  from  his  own  works; 
and  hence,  in  those  days  of  innocence,  according  to  the  season 
and  occupations  of  men,  it  was  the  voice  of  the  zephyr  or  the 
storm,  of  the  eagle  or  the  dove,  that  summoned  them  to  the 
temple  of  the  God  of  nature. 

Our  peasants  still  make  use  occasionally  of  these  charming 
tables,  on  which  are  engraven  the  seasons  of  rustic  labor.  The 
natives  of  India  also  have  recourse  to  them,  and  the  negroes  and 


160  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


American  savages  retain  the  same  method  of  computation.  A 
Seminole  of  Florida  will  tell  you  that  his  daughter  was  married 
at  the  arrival  of  the  humming-bird; — his  child  died  in  the  moult* 
ing  season  of  the  nonpareil; — his  mother  had  as  many  young 
warriors  as  there  are  eggs  in  the  nest  of  the  pelican. 

The  savages  of  Canada  mark  the  sixth  hour  after  noon  by  the 
moment  when  the  wood-pigeon  repairs  to  the  stream  to  drink, 
and  the  savages  of  Louisiana  by  that  in  which  the  day-fly  issues 
from  the  waters.  The  passage  of  various  birds  regulates  the  sea 
son  of  the  chase;  and  the  time  for  reaping  the  crops  of  corn, 
maple-sugar,  and  wild  oats,  is  announced  by  certain  animals, 
which  never  fail  to  appear  at  the  hour  of  the  banquet.  ' 


CHAPTER   IX. 

THE    SUBJECT   OF    MIGRATIONS    CONCLUDED QUADRUPEDS. 

MIGRATION  is  more  frequent  among  fishes  and  birds  than 
among  quadrupeds,  on  account  of  the  multiplicity  of  the  former, 
and  the  facility  of  their  journeys  through  the  two  elements  by 
which  the  earth  is  surrounded.  There  is  nothing  astonishing  in 
all  this  but  the  certainty  with  which  they  reach  the  shores  to 
which  they  are  bound.  It  appears  natural  that  an  animal,  driven 
by  hunger,  should  leave  the  country  he  inhabits  in  search  of  food 
and  shelter;  but  is  it  possible  to  conceive  that  matter  causes  him 
to  arrive  at  one  place  rather  than  another,  and  conducts  him, 
with  wonderful  precision,  to  the  very  spot,  where  this  food  and 
shelter  are  to  be  found  ?  How  should  he  know  the  winds  and 
the  tides,  the  equinoxes  and  the  solstices?  We  have  no  doubt 
that  if  the  migratory  tribes  were  abandoned  for  a  single  moment 
to  their  own  instinct,  they  would  almost  all  perish.  Some,  wish 
ing  to  pass  to  a  colder  climate,  would  reach  the  tropics;  others, 
intending  to  proceed  under  the  line,  would  wander  to  the  poles. 
Our  redbreasts,  instead  of  passing  over  Alsace  and  Germany  in 
search  of  little  insects,  would  themselves  become  the  prey  of  some 
enormous  beetle  in  Africa;  the  Greenlander,  attracted  by  a  plain- 


MIGRATIONS  OF  QUADRUPEDS.  161 


live  cry  issuing  from  the  rocks,  would  draw  near,  and  find  poor 
philomela  in  the  agony  of  death. 

Such  mistakes  are  not  permitted  by  the  Almighty.  Every 
thing  in  nature  has  its  harmonies  and  its  relations :  zephyrs  ac 
cord  with  flowers,  winter  is  suited  to  storms,  and  grief  has  its 
seat  in  the  heart  of  man.  The  most  skilful  pilots  will  long  miss 
the  desired  port  before  the  fish  mistakes  the  longitude  of  the 
smallest  rock  in  the  ocean.  Providence  is  his  polar  star,  and, 
whatever  way  he  steers,  he  has  constantly  in  view  that  luminary 
which  never  sets. 

The  universe  is  like  an  immense  inn,  where  all  is  in  motion. 
You  behold  a  multitude  of  travellers  continually  entering  and 
departina^  In  the  migrations  of  quadrupeds,  nothing  perhaps 
can  be  c^Ppared  to  the  journeys  of  the  bisons  across  the  immense 
prairies  of  Louisiana  and  New  Mexico.1  When  the  time  has 
arrived  for  them  to  change  their  residence,  and  to  dispense  abun 
dance  to  savage  nations,  some  aged  buffalo,  the  patriarch  of  the 
herds  of  the  desert,  calls  around  him  his  sons  and  daughters. 
The  rendezvous  is  on  the  banks  of  the  Meschacebe ;  the  close  of 
day  is  fixed  for  the  time  of  their  departure.  This  moment  hav 
ing  arrived,  the  leader,  shaking  his  vast  mane,  which  hangs  down 
over  his  eyes  and  his  curved  horns,  salutes  the  setting  sun  with 
an  inclination  of  the  head,  at  the  same  time  raising  his  huge  back 
like  a  mountain.  With  a  deep,  rumbling  sound,  he  gives  the 
signal  for  departure.  Then,  suddenly  plunging  into  -the  foaming 
waters,  he  is  followed  by  the  whole  multitude  of  bulls  and  heifers, 
bellowing  after  him  in  the  expression  of  their  love. 

While  this  powerful  family  of  quadrupeds  is  crossing  with  tre 
mendous  uproar  the  rivers  and  forests,  a  peaceful  squadron  is 
seen  moving  silently  over  the  solitary  lake,  with  the  aid  of  the 
starlight  and  a  favorable  breeze.  It  is  a  troop  of  small,  black 
squirrels,  that  having  stripped  all  the  walnut  trees  of  the  vicinity, 
resolve  to  seek  their  fortune,  and  to  embark  for  another  forest. 
Raising  their  tails,  and  expanding  them  as  silken  sails  to  the 

1  The  bison  is  the  wild  bull  or  ox,  from  which  several  races  of  common  cattle 
are  descended.  It  is  found  wild  in  many  parts  of  the  old  and  new  continents, 
and  is  distinguished  by  its  large  size  and  the  shagginess  of  its  hair  about  the 
head,  neck,  and  shoulders.  In  the  western  territories  of  the  United  State* 
*hey  are  seen  in  herds  innumerable,  intermixed  with  deer. 
14*  L 


162  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 

wind,  this  intrepid  race  boldly  tempt  the  inconstant  waves.  0 
imprudent  pirates,  transported  by  the  desire  of  riches!  The 
tempest  arises,  the  waves  roar,  and  the  squadron  is  on  the  point 
of  perishing.  It  strives  to  gain  the  nearest  haven,  but  some 
times  an  army  of  beavers  oppose  the  landing,  fearful  lest  nhese 
strangers  are  come  to  pillage  their  stores.  In  vain  the  nimble 
battalions,  springing  upon  the  shores,  think  to  escape  by  climb 
ing  the  trees,  and  from  their  lofty  tops  to  defy  the  enemy.  Ge 
nius  is  superior  to  artifice  j — a  band  of  sappers  advance,  under 
mine  the  oak,  and  bring  it  to  the  ground,  with  all  its  squirrels, 
like  a  tower,  filled  with  soldiers,  demolishad  by  the  ancient  bat 
tering-ram. 

Our  adventurers  experience  many  other  mishaps,  wiich,  how 
ever,  are  in  some  degree  compensated  by  the  fruit  th^Wiave  dis 
covered  and  the  sports  in  which  they  indulge.  Athens,  reduced 
to  captivity  by  the  Lacedemonians,  was  not,  on  that  account,  of 
a  less  amiable  or  less  frivolous  character. 

In  ascending  the  North  River  in  the  packet-boat  from  New 
York  to  Albany,  we  ourselves  beheld  one  of  these  unfortunate 
squirrels,  which  had  attempted  to  cross  the  stream.  He  was  un 
able  to  reach  the  shore,  and  was  taken  half-drowned  out  of  the 
water ;  he  was  a  beautiful  creature,  black  as  ebony,  and  his  tail 
was  twice  the  length  of  his  body.  He  was  restored  to  life, 
but  lost  his  liberty  by  becoming  the  slave  of  a  young  female 
passenger. 

The  reindeer  of  the  north  of  Europe,  and  the  elks  of  North 
America,  have  their  seasons  of  migration,  invariably  calculated, 
like  those  of  birds,  to  supply  the  necessities  of  man.  Even  the 
white  bear  of  Newfoundland  is  sent  by  a  wonderful  Providence 
to  the  Esquimaux  Indians,  that  they  may  clothe  themselves  with 
its  skin.  These  marine  monsters  are  seen  approaching  the  coasts 
of  Labrador  on  islands  of  floating  ice,  or  on  fragments  of  vessels, 
to  which  they  cling  like  sturdy  mariners  escaped  from  shipwreck. 
The  elephants  of  Asia  also  travel,  and  the  earth  shakes  beneath 
their  feet,  yet  man  has  nothing  to  fear ;  chaste,  tender,  intelli 
gent,  Behemoth  is  gentle  because  he  is  strong ;  peaceful,  because 
he  is  powerful.  The  first  servant  of  man,  but  not  his  slave,  he 
ranks  next  to  him  in  the  scale  of  the  creation  When  the  ani 
mals,  after  the  original  fall,  removed  from  the  habitation  of  inr.ii, 


AMPHIBIOUS   ANIMALS   AND   REPTILES.  163 

the  elephant,  from  the  generosity  of  his  nature,  appears  to  have 
retired  with  the  greatest  reluctance ;  for  he  has  always  remained 
near  the  cradle  of  the  world.  He  now  goes  forth  occasionally 
from  his  desert,  and  advances  toward  an  inhabited  district,  to 
supply  the  place  of  some  companion  that  has  died  without  pro 
geny  in  the  service  of  the  children  of  Adam.1 


CHAPTER  X. 

AMPHIBIOUS    ANIMALS    AND   REPTILES. 

• 

IN  the  Floridas,  at  the  foot  of  the  Appalachian  Mountains, 
there  are  springs  which  are  called  natural  wells.  Each  well  is 
scooped  out  of  the  centre  of  a  hill  planted  with  orange-trees, 
evergreen  oaks,  and  catalpas.  This  hill  opens  in  the  form  of  a 

1  The  eloquent  writers  who  have  described  the  manners  of  this  animal  render 
it  unnecessary  for  us  to  enlarge  on  the  subject.  We  shall  merely  observe  that 
the  conformation  of  the  elephant  appears  so  extraordinary  to  us,  only  because 
we  see  it  separated  from  the  plants,  the  situations,  the  waters,  the  mountains, 
the  colors,  the  light,  the  shade,  and  the  skies,  which  are  peculiar  to  it.  The 
productions  of  our  latitudes,  planned  on  a  smaller  scale,  the  frequent  roundness 
of  objects,  the  firmness  of  the  grasses,  the  slight  denticulation  of  the  leaves, 
the  elegant  bearing  of  the  trees,  our  languid  days  and  chilly  nights,  the  fugitive 
tints  of  our  verdure,  in  short,  even  the  color,  clothing  and  architecture  of 
Europeans,  have  no  conformity  with  the  elephant.  Were  travellers  more  accu 
rate  observers,  we  should  know  in  what  manner  this  quadruped  is  connected 
with  that  nature  which  produces  him.  For  our  own  part,  we  think  we  hare  a 
glimpse  of  some  of  these  relations.  The  elephant's  trunk,  for  example,  has  a 
striking  coincidence  with  the  wax-tree,  the  aloe,  the  lianne,  the  rattan,  and  in 
the  animal  kingdom  with  the  long  serpents  of  India;  his  ears  are  shaped  like 
the  leaves  of  the  eastern  fig-tree ;  his  skin  is  scaly,  soft,  and  yet  rigid,  like  the 
substance  which  covers  part  of  the  trunk  of  the  palm,  or  rather  like  the  ligneous 
coat  of  the  cocoanut;  many  of  the  large  plants  of  the  tropics  support  them 
selves  on  the  earth  in  the  manner  of  his  feet,  and  have  the  same  square  and 
heavy  form ;  his  voice  is  at  once  shrill  and  strong,  like  that  of  the  Caffre  in  his 
deserts,  or  like  the  war-cry  of  the  Sepoy.  When,  covered  with  a  rich  carpet, 
laden  with  a  tower  resembling  the  minarets  of  a  pagoda,  he  carries  some  pious 
monarch  to  the  ruins  of  those  temples  which  are  found  in  the  peninsula  of 
India,  his  massive  form,  the  columns  which  support  him,  his  irregular  figure, 
and  his  barbarous  pomp,  coincide  with  the  colossal  structure  formed  of  hewn 
rocks  piled  one  upon  another.  The  vast  animal  and  the  ruined  monument  both 
Boem  to  be  relics  of  the  giant  age. 


164  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

crescent  toward  the  savanna,  and  at  the  aperture  is  a  channel 
through  which  the  water  flows  from  the  well.  The  foliage  of  t]ie 
trees  bending  over  the  fountain  causes  the  water  beneath  to 
appear  perfectly  black;  but  at  the  spot  where  the  aqueduct  joins 
the  base  of  the  cone,  a  ray  of  light,  entering  by  the  bed  of  the 
channel,  falls  upon  a  single  point  of  the  liquid  mirror,  which 
produces  an  effect  resembling  that  of  the  glass  in  the  camera 
obscura  of  the  painter.  This  delightful  retreat  is  commonly  in 
habited  by  an  enormous  crocodile,  which  stands  motionless  in  the 
centre  of  the  basin  ;*  and  from  the  appearance  of  his  greenish 
hide,  and  his  large  nostrils  spouting  the  water  in  two  colored 
ellipses,  you  would  take  him  for  a  dolphin  of  bronze  in  some 
grotto  among  the  groves  of  Versailles.  « 

The  crocodiles  or  caymans  of  Florida  live  not  always  in  soli 
tude.  At  certain  seasons  of  the  year  they  assemble  in  troops, 
and  lie  in  ambush  to  attack  the  scaly  travellers  who  are  expected 
to  arrive  from  the  ocean.  When  these  have  ascended  the  rivers, 
and,  wanting  water  for  their  vast  shoals,  perish  stranded  on  the 
shores,  and  threaten  to  infect  the  air,  Providence  suddenly  lets 
loose  upon  them  an  army  of  four  or  five  thousand  crocodiles.  The 
monsters,  raising  a  tremendous  outcry  and  gnashing  their  horrid 
jaws,  rush  upon  the  strangers.  Bounding  from  all  sides,  the 
combatants  close,  seize,  and  entwine  each  other.  Plunging  to 
the  bottom  of  the  abyss,  they  roll  themselves  in  the  mud,  and 
then  to  the  surface  of  the  waves.  The  waters,  stained  with 
blood,  are  covered  with  mangled  carcasses  and  reeking  with  en 
trails.  It  is  impossible  to  convey  an  idea  of  these  extraordinary 
scenes  described  by  travellers,  and  which  the  reader  is  always 
tempted  to  consider  as  mere  exaggerations.  Routed,  dispersed, 
and  panic-struck,  the  foreign  legions,  pursued  as  far  as  the  At 
lantic,  are  obliged  to  return  to  its  abyss,  that  by  supplying  our 
wants  at  some  future  period,  they  may  serve  without  injuring  us.9 
This  species  of  monsters  has  sometimes  proved  a  stumbling- 
block  to  atheistic  minds ;  they  are,  however,  extremely  necessary 
in  the  general  plan.  They  inhabit  only  the  deserts  where  the 
absence  of  man  requires  their  presence  :  they  are  placed  there 

1  See  Bertram.  Voyage  dans  les  Carolines  et  dans  les  Florides. 

2  The  immense  advantages  derived  by  man  from  the  migrations  of  fishes  are 
so  voll  known  that  we  shall  not  enlarge  on  that  subject. 


AMPHIBIOUS   ANIMALS   AND   REPTI  ,ES.  165 

for  the  express  purpose  of  destroying,  till  the  arrival  of  the  great 
destroyer.  The  moment  we  appear  on  the  coast,  they  resign  the 
empire  to  us ;  certain  that  a  single  individual  of  our  species  will 
make  greater  havoc  than  ten  thousand  of  theirs.1 

"And  why,"  it  will  be  asked,  "has  God  made  superfluous 
creatures,  which  render  destruction  a  necessary  consequence?" 
For  this  great  reason,  that  God  acts  not,  like  us,  in  a  limited 
way.  He  contents  himself  with  saying,  "  increase  and  multi 
ply,"  and  in  these  two  words  exists  infinity.  Henceforth,  we 
shall  perhaps  measure  the  wisdom  of  the  Deity  by  the  rule  of 
mediocrity;  we  shall  deny  him  the  attribute  of  infinitude,  and 
reject  altogether  the  idea  of  immensity.  Wherever  we  behold  it 
in  nature,  we  shall  pronounce  it  an  "excess,"  because  it  is  above 
our  comprehension.  What !  If  God  thinks  fit  to  place  more 
than  a  certain  number  of  suns  in  the  expanse  of  heaven,  shall  we 
consider  the  excess  as  superfluous,  and,  in  consequence  of  this 
profusion,  declare  the  Creator  convicted  of  folly  and  imbecility? 

Whatever  may  be  the  deformity  of  the  beings  which  we  call 
monsters,  if  we  consider  them  individually,  we  may  discover  in 
their  horrible  figures  some  marks  of  divine  goodness.  Has  a 
crocodile  or  a  serpent  less  affection  for  her  young  than  a  night 
ingale  or  a  dove  ?  And  is  it  not  a  contrast  equally  wonderful  and 
pleasing  to  behold  this  crocodile  building  a  nest  and  laying  an 
egg  like  a  hen,  and  a  little  monster  issuing  from  that  egg  like  a 
chicken  ?  After  the  birth  of  the  young  one,  the  female  croco 
dile  evinces  for  it  the  most  tender  solicitude.  She  walks  her 
rounds  among  the  nests  of  her  sisters,  which  are  cones  of  eggs 
and  of  clay,  and  are  ranged  like  the  tents  of  a  camp  on  the  bank 
of  a  river.  The  amazon  keeps  a  vigilant  guard,  and  leaves  the  fires 
of  day  to  operate  ]  for,  if  the  delicate  tenderness  of  the  mother  is, 
as  it  were,  represented  in  the  egg  of  the  crocodile,  the  strength 
and  the  manners  of  that  powerful  animal  are  denoted  by  the  sun 
which  hatches  that  egg  and  by  the  rnud  which  aids  it  to  ferment. 


1  It  has  been  observed  that,  in  the  Carolinas,  where  the  caymans  have  been 
destroyed,  the  rivers  are  often  infected  by  the  multitude  of  fishes  which  ascend 
from  the  ocean,  and  which  perish  for  want  of  water  during  the  dog-days. 

The  cayman  is  commonly  known  by  the  name  of  Antilles  Crocodile,  because 
it  abounds  in  those  islands.  It  is  the  most  hideous,  terrible,  and  destructive 
of  the  Lacerta  genus  of  animals. 


166  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

As  s  )on  as  one  of  the  broods  is  hatched,  the  female  takes  the 
young  monsters  under  her  protection ;  they  are  not  always  her  own 
children  but  she  thus  serves  an  apprenticeship  to  maternal  care, 
and  acquires  an  ability  equal  to  her  future  tenderness.  When 
her  family,  at  length,  burst  from  their  confinement,  she  conducts 
them  to  the  river,  she  washes  them  in  pure  water,  she  teaches 
them  to  swim,  she  catches  small  fishes  for  them,  and  protects 
them  from  the  males,  by  whom  otherwise  they  would  frequently 
be  devoured. 

A  Spaniard  of  Florida  related  to  us  that,  having  taken  t 
brood  of  a  crocodile,  which  he  ordered  some  negroes  to  carry  away 
in  a  basket,  the  female  followed  him  with  pitiful  cries, 
the  young  having  been  placed  upon  the  ground,  the  mother  im 
mediately  began  to  push  them  with  her  paws  and  her  snout  j 
sometimes  posting  herself  behind  to  defend  them,  sometimes 
walking  before  to  show  them  the  way.  The  young  animals, 
groaning,  crawled  in  the  footsteps  of  their  mother;  and  this 
enormous  reptile,  which  used  to  shake  the  shore  witk  her  bellow 
ing,  then  made  a  kind  of  bleating  noise,  as  gentle  as  that  of  a 
goat  suckling  her  kids. 

The  rattlesnake  vies  with  the  crocodile  in  maternal  affection. 
This  superb  reptile,  which  gives  a  lesson  of  generosity  to  man,1 
also  presents  to  him  a  pattern  of  tenderness.  When  her  offspring 
are  pursued,  she  receives  them  into  her  mouth  :a  dissatisfied  with 
every  other  place  of  concealment,  she  hides  them  within  herself, 
concluding  that  children  can  have  no  better  refuge  than  the 
bosom  of  their  mother.  A  perfect  example  of  sublime  love,  she 
never  survives  the  loss  of  her  young ;  for  it  is  impossible  to  de 
prive  her  of  them  without  tearing  out  her  entrails. 

Shall  we  mention  the  poison  of  this  serpent,  always  the  most 
violent  at  the  time  she  has  a  family?  Shall  we  describe  the 
tenderness  of  the  bear,  which,  like  the  female  savage,  carries 
maternal  affection  to  such  a  pitch  as  to  suckle  her  offspring  after 
their  death?3  If  we  follow  these  monsters,  as  they  are  called,  in 
*11  their  instincts ;  if  we  study  their  forms  and  their  weapons  of 


1  It  is  never  the  first  to  attack. 

2  See  Carver's  Travels  in  Canada  for  a  confirmation  of  this  statement. 

3  See  Cook's  Voyages. 


AMPHIBIOUS   ANIMALS   AND   REPTILES. 


defence  ;  if  we  consider  the  link  which  they  make  in  the  chain 
of  creation  ;  if  we  examine  the  relations  they  have  among  them 
selves,  and  those  which  they  have  to  man;  we  shall  be  convinced 
that  final  causes  are,  perhaps,  more  discernible  in  this  class  of 
beings  than  in  the  most  favored  species  of  nature.  In  a  rude 
and  unpolished  work,  the  traits  of  genius  shine  forth  the  more 
prominently  amid  the  shadows  that  surround  them. 

The  objections  alleged  against  the  situations  which  these  mon 
sters  inhabit  appear  to  us  equally  unfounded.  Morasses,  how 
ever  noxious  they  may  seem,  have,  nevertheless,  very  important 
uses.  They  are  the  urns  of  rivers  in  champagne  countries,  and 
reservoirs  for  rain  in  those  remote  from  the  sea.  Their  mud  and 
the  ashes  of  their  plants  serve  the  husbandman  for  manure. 
Their  reeds  supply  the  poor  with  fuel  and  with  shelter—  a  frail 
covering,  indeed,  though  it  harmonizes  with  the  life  of  man,  last 
ing  no  longer  than  himself.  These  places  even  possess  a  certain 
beauty  peculiar  to  themselves.  Bordering  on  land  and  water, 
they  have  plants,  scenery,  and  inhabitants,  of  a  specific  character. 
Every  object  there  partakes  of  the  mixture  of  the  two  elements. 
The  corn-flag  forms  the  medium  between  the  herb  and  the  shrub, 
between  the  leek  of  the  seas  and  the  terrestrial  plant.  Some  of 
the  aquatic  insects  resemble  small  birds.  When  the  dragon-fly, 
with  his  blue  corslet  and  transparent  wings,  hovers  round  the 
flower  of  the  white  water-lily,  you  would  take  him  for  a  hum 
ming-bird  of  the  Floridas  on  a  rose  of  magnolia.  In  autumn 
these  morasses  are  covered  with  dried  reeds,  which  give  to  ste 
rility  itself  the  appearance  of  the  richest  harvests.  In  the  spring 
they  exhibit  forests  of  verdant  lances.  A  solitary  birch  or  willow, 
on  which  the  gale  has  suspended  tufts  of  feathers,  towers  above 
these  moving  plains,  and  when  the  wind  passes  over  their  bend 
ing  summits,  one  bows  its  head  while  another  rises;  but  suddenly, 
the  whole  forest  inclining  at  once,  you  discover  ei  .her  the  gilded 
bittern  or  ;he  white  heron,  standing  motionless  on  one  of  its  long 
paws,  as  it  fixed  upon  a  spear. 


GENIUS   OF    CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  XL 

OP   PLANTS   AND   THEIR    MIGRATIONS. 

WE  now  enter  that  kingdom  of  nature  in  which  the  wonders 
of  Providence  assume  a  milder  and  more  charming  character. 
Rising  aloft  in  the  air,  and  on  the  summits  of  the  mountains, 
plants  would  seem  to  borrow  something  of  that  heaven  to  which 
they  make  approaches.  We  often  see,  at  the  first  dawn  of  day, 
in  a  time  of  profound  stillness,  the  flowers  of  the  valley  motion 
less  on  their  stems,  and  inclining  in  various  directions  toward 
every  point  of  the  horizon.  At  this  very  moment,  when  all  ap 
pears  so  tranquil,  a  great  mystery  is  accomplishing.  Nature  con 
ceives,  and  all  these  plants  become  so  many  youthful  mothers, 
looking  toward  the  mysterious  region  from  which  they  derive 
their  fecundity.  The  sylphs  have  sympathies  less  aerial,  commu 
nications  less  imperceptible.  The  narcissus  consigns  her  virgin 
progeny  to  the  stream.  The  violet  trusts  her  modest  posterity  to 
the  zephyrs.  A  bee,  collecting  honey  from  flower  to  flower,  un 
consciously  fecundates  a  whole  meadow.  A  butterfly  bears  a 
whole  species  on  his  wings.  All  the  loves  of  the  plants,  however, 
are  not  equally  peaceful.  Some  are  stormy,  like  the  passions  of 
men.  Nothing  less  than  a  tempest  is  required  to  marry,  on  their 
inaccessible  heights,  the  cedar  of  Lebanon  to  the  cedar  of  Sinai; 
while,  at  the  foot  of  the  mountain,  the  gentlest  breeze  is  sufficient 
to  produce  a  voluptuous  commerce  among  the  flowers.  Is  it  not 
thus  that  the  rude  blast  of  the  passions  agitates  the  kings  of  the 
earth  upon  their  thrones,  while  the  shepherds  enjoy  uninterrupted 
happiness  at  their  feet? 

The  flower  yields  honey.  It  is  the  daughter  of  the  morning, 
the  charm  of  spring,  the  source  of  perfumes,  the  graceful  orna 
ment  of  the  virgin,  the  delight  of  the  poet.  Like  man,  it  passes 
rapidly  away,  but  drops  its  leaves  gently  to  the  earth.  Among 
the  ancients  it  crowned  the  convivial  cup  and  the  silvery  hair  of 
the  sage.  With  flowers  the  first  Christians  bedecked  the  remains 
of  martyrs  and  the  altars  of  the  catacombs;  and,  in  commemora- 


PLANTS   AND   THEIR  MIGRATIONS.  169 

tioii  of  those  ancient  days,  we  still  use  them  for  the  decoration  of 
our  temples.  In  the  world,  we  compare  our  affections  to  the 
colors  of  the  flower.  Hope  has  its  verdure,  innocence  its  whiteness, 
modesty  its  roseate  hue.  Some  nations  make  it  the  interpreter 
of  the  feelings, — a  charming  book,  containing  no  dangerous  error, 
but  recording  merely  the  fugitive  history  of  man's  changing  heart. 

By  a  wise  distribution  of  the  sexes  in  several  families  of  plants, 
Providence  h;;s  multiplied  the  mysteries  and  the  beauties  of  na 
ture.  By  this  means  the  law  of  migrations  is  reproduced  in  a 
kingdom  destitute,  apparently,  of  every  locomotive  faculty. 
Sometimes  it  is  'the  seed  or  the  fruit,  sometimes  it  is  a  portion 
of  the  plant,  or  even  the  whole  plant,  that  travels.  The  cocoa- 
tree  frequently  grows  upon  rocks  in  the  midst  of  the  ocean.  The 
storm  rages,  the  fruits  fall  and  are  carried  by  the  billows  to  in 
habited  coasts,  where  they  are  transformed  into  stately  trees — an 
admirable  symbol  of  Virtue,  who  fixes  herself  upon  the  rock,  ex 
posed  to  the  tempest.  The  more  she  is  assailed  by  the  wands, 
the  more  she  lavishes  treasures  upon  mankind. 

On  the  banks  of  the  Yare,  a  small  river  in  the  county  of  Suf 
folk,  England,  we  were  shown  a  very  curious  species  of  the  cress 
It  changes  its  place,  and  advances,  as  it  were,  by  leaps  and  bounds. 
From  its  summit  descend  several  fibres,  and  when  those  which 
happen  to  be  at  one  extremity  are  of  sufficient  length  to  reach 
the  bottom  of  the  water,  they  take  root.  Drawn  away  by  the 
action  of  the  plant,  which  settles  upon  its  new  foot,  that  on  the 
opposite  looses  its  hold,  and  the  tuft  of  cresses,  turning  on  its 
pivot,  removes  the  whole  length  of  its  bed.  In  vain  you  seek 
the  plant  on  the  morrow  in  the  place  where  you  left  it  the  pre 
ceding  night.  You  perceive  it  higher  up  or  lower  down  the 
current  of  the  river,  producing,  with  the  other  aquatic  families, 
new  effects  and  new  beauties.  We  have  not  seen  this  singular 
species  of  cress,  either  in  its  flowering  or  bearing  state;  but  we 
have  given  it  the  name  of  migrator,  or  the  traveller.1 

Marine  plants  are  liable  to  change  their  climate.  They  seem 
to  partake  of  the  adventurous  spirit  of  those  nations  whose  geo 
graphical  position  has  rendered  them  commercial.  The  fucus 
giganteus  issues  with  the  tempests  from  the  caverns  of  the  north. 

1  None  of  the  naturalists  consulted  upon  this  subject  have  verified  the  de 
scription  of  this  curious  species  of  cress. 


170  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


Borne  upon  the  sea,  it  moves  along  encircling  an  immense  mnss 
of  water.  Like  a  net  Wretched  across  the  ocean  from  shore  to 
shore,  it  carries  along  with  it  the  shells,  seals,  thornbacks,  and 
turtles  which  it  meets  in  its  way.  Sometimes,  as  if  fatigued  with 
swimming  on  the  waves,  it  extends  one  leg  to  the  bottom  of  the 
abyss,  and  remains  stationary;  then,  pursuing  its  voyage  with  a 
favorable  breeze,  after  having  floated  beneath  a  thousand  different 
latitudes,  it  proceeds  to  cover  the  Canadian  shores  with  garlands 
torn  from  the  rocks  of  Norway. 

The  migrations  of  marine  plants,  which,  at  the  first  view, 
would  seem  to  be  the  mere  sport  of  chance,  have,  nevertheless, 
very  interesting  relations  with  man. 

Walking  one  evening  along  the  seashore  at  Brest,  we  perceived 
a  poor  woman  wandering,  in  a  stooping  posture,  among  the  rocks. 
She  surveyed  with  attention  the  fragments  of  a  wreck,  and  exa 
mined  particularly  the  plants  which  adhered  to  it,  as  if  she  sought 
to  ascertain,  from  their  age,  the  exact  period  of  her  misfortune. 
She  discovered,  beneath  some  stones,  one  of  those  chests  in  which 
mariners  are  used  to  keep  their  bottles.  Perhaps  she  had  once 
filled  it  herself,  for  her  husband,  with  cordials  purchased  with  the 
fruit  of  her  economy;  at  least  so  we  judged,  for  we  saw  her  lift 
the  corner  of  her  apron  to  wipe  the  tears  from  her  eyes.  Sea- 
mushrooms  now  replaced  the  offerings  of  her  affection.  Thus, 
while  the  report  of  cannon  announces  to  the  great  ones  of  this 
earth  the  destruction  of  human  grandeur,  Providence  brings  the 
tale  of  sorrow,  on  the  same  shore,  to  the  weak  and  lowly,  by  se 
cretly  disclosing  to  them  a  blade  of  grass  or  a  ruin. 


CHAPTER    XII. 

TWO    VIEWS    OF   NATURE. 


WHAT  we  have  said  respecting  animals  and  plants  leads  us  to 
a  more  general  view  of  the  scenes  of  nature.  Those  wonders 
which,  separately  considered,  so  loudly  proclaimed  the  providence 
of  God,  will  now  speak  to  us  of  the  same  truth  in  their  collective 
capacity. 


TWO   VIEWS   OF   NATURE.  171 


We  shall  place  before  the  reader  two  views  of  nature;  one  an 
ocean  scene,  the  other  a  land  picture ;  one  sketched  in  the  middle 
of  the  Atlantic,  the  other  in  the  forests  of  the  New  World. 
Thus,  no  one  can  say  that  the  imposing  grandeur  of  this  scenery 
has  been  derived  from  the  works  of  man. 

The  vessel  in  which  we  embarked  for  America  having  passed 
the  bearing  of  any  land,  space  was  soon  enclosed  only  by  the  two 
fold  azure  of  the  sea  and  of  the  sky.  The  color  of  the  waters 
resembled  that  of  liquid  glass.  A  great  swell  was  visible  from 
the  west,  though  the  wind  blew  from  the  east,  while  immense  un 
dulations  extended  from  the  north  to  the  south,  opening  in  their 
valleys  long  vistas  through  the  deserts  of  the  deep.  The  fleeting 
scenes  changed  with  every  minute.  Sometimes  a  multitude  of 
verdant  hillocks  appeared  to  us  like  a  series  of  graves  in  some 
vast  cemetery.  Sometimes  the  curling  summits  of  the  waves 
resembled  white  flocks  scattered  over  a  heath.  Now  space  seemed 
circumscribed  for  want  of  an  object  of  comparison;  but  if  a  billow 
reared  its  mountain  crest,  if  a  wave  curved  like  a  distant  shore, 
or  a  squadron  of  sea-dogs  moved  along  the  horizon,  the  vastness 
of  space  again  suddenly  opened  before  us.  We  were  most  power 
fully  impressed  with  an  idea  of  magnitude,  when  a  light  fog, 
creeping  along  the  surface  of  the  deep,  seemed  to  increase  im 
mensity  itself.  Oh !  how  sublime,  how  awful,  at  such  times,  is 
the  aspect  of  the  ocean  !  Into  what  reveries  does  it  plunge  you, 
whether  imagination  transports  you  to  the  seas  of  the  north,  into 
the  midst  of  frosts  and  tempests,  or  wafts  you  to  southern  islands, 
blessed  with  happiness  and  peace ! 

We  often  rose  at  midnight  and  sat  down  upon  deck,  where  we 
found  only  the  officer  of  the  watch  and  a  few  sailors  silently 
smoking  their  pipes.  No  noise  was  heard,  save  the  dashing  of 
the  prow  through  the  billows,  while  sparks  of  fire  ran  with  a  white 
foam  along  the  sides  of  the  vessel.  God  of  Christians !  it  is  on 
the  waters  of  the  abyss  and  on  the  vast  expanse  of  the  heavens 
that  thou  hast  particularly  engraven  the  characters  of  thy  omni 
potence  !  Millions  of  stars  sparkling  in  the  azure  of  the  celestial 
dome — the  moon  in  the  midst  of  the  firmament — a  sea  unbounded 
by  any  shore — infinitude  in  the  skies  and  on  the  waves — proclaim 
with  most  impressive  effect  the  power  of  thy  arm !  Never  did 
thy  greatness  strike  me  with  profounder  awe  than  in  those  nights, 


jj2  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIAN!!  i". 

when,  suspended  between  the  stars  and  the  ocea  i,  I  *xheld  im 
mensity  over  my  head  and  immensity  beneath  my  feet! 

I  am  nothing;  I  am  only  a  simple,  solitary  wanderer,  and 
often  have  I  heard  men  of  science  disputing  on  the  subject  of  a 
Supreme  Being,  without  understanding  them ;  but  I  have  inva 
riably  remarked,  that  it  is  in  the  prospect  of  the  sublime  scenes 
of  nature  that  this  unknown  Being  manifests  himself  to  the 
human  heart.  One  evening,  after  we  had  reached  the  beautiful 
waters  that  bathe  the  shores  of  Virginia,  there  was  a  profound 
calm,  and  every  sail  was  furled.  I  was  engaged  below,  when  I 
heard  the  bell  that  summoned  the  crew  to  prayers.  I  hastened 
to  mingle  my  supplications  with  those  of  my  travelling  com 
panions.  The  officers  of  the  ship  were  on  the  quarter-deck 
with  the  passengers,  while  the  chaplain,  with  a  book  in  his 
hand,  was  stationed  at  a  little  distance  before  them ;  the  seamen 
were  scattered  at  random  over  the  poop;  we  were  all  standing, 
our  faces  toward  the  prow  of  the  vessel,  which  was  turned  to 
the  west. 

The  solar  orb,  about  to  sink  beneath  the  waves,  was  seen 
through  the  rigging,  in  the  midst  of  boundless  space ;  and,  from 
the  motion  of  the  stern,  it  appeared  as  if  it  changed  its  horizon 
every  moment.  A  few  clouds  wandered  confusedly  in  the  east, 
where  the  moon  was  slowly  rising.  The  rest  of  the  sky  was  serene; 
and  toward  the  north,  a  water-spout,  forming  a  glorious  triangle 
with  the  luminaries  of  day  and  night,  and  glistening  with  all 
the  colors  of  the  prism,  rose  from  the  sea,  like  a  column  of 
crystal  supporting  the  vault  of  heaven. 

He  had  been  well  deserving  of  pity  who  would  not  have  re 
cognised  in  this  prospect  the  beauty  of  God.  When  my  com 
panions,  doffing  their  tarpaulin  hats,  entoned  with  hoarse  voice 
their  simple  hymn  to  Our  Lady  of  Good  Help,  the  patroness  of 
the  seas,  the  tears  flowed  from  my  eyes  in  spite  of  myself.  How 
affecting  was  the  prayer  of  those  men,  who,  from  a  frail  plank  in 
the  midst  of  the  ocean,  contemplated  the  sun  setting  behind  the 
waves!  How  the  appeal  of  the  poor  sailor  to  the  Mother  cf 
Sorrows  went  to  the  heart !  The  consciousness  of  our  insignifi 
cance  in  the  presence  of  the  Infinite, — our  hymns,  resounding  to 
a  distance  over  the  silent  waves, — the  night  approaching  with  its 
dangers, — our  vessel,  itself  a  wonder  among  so  many  wonders, — a 


TWO  VIEWS   OF   NATURE,  173 


religious  crew,  penetrated  with  admiration  and  tfith  awe, — a  ve 
nerable  priest  in  prayer,— the  Almighty  bending  over  the  abyss, 
with  one  hand  staying  the  sun  in  the  west,  with  the  other  raising 
the  moon  in  the  east,  and  lending  through  all  immensity,  an 
attentive  ear  to  the  feeble  voice  of  his  creatures, — all  this  consti 
tuted  a  scene  which  no  power  of  art  can  represent,  and  which  it 
is  scarcely  possible  for  the  heart  of  man  to  feel. 

Let  us  now  pass  to  the  terrestrial  scene. 

I  had  wandered  one  evening  in  the  woods,  at  some  distance 
from  the  cataract  of  Niagara,  when  soon  the  last  glimmering  of 
daylight  disappeared,  and  I  enjoyed,  in  all  its  loneliness,  the 
beauteous  prospect  of  night  amid  the  deserts  of  the  New  World. 

An  hour  after  sunset,  the  moon  appeared  above  the  trees  in 
the  opposite  part  of  the  heavens.  A  balmy  breeze,  which  the 
queen  of  night  had  brought  with  her  from  the  east,  seemed  to 
precede  her  in  the  forests,  like  her  perfumed  breath.  The  lonely 
luminary  slowly  ascended  in  the  firmament,  now  peacefully  pur 
suing  her  azure  course,  and  now  reposing  on  groups  of  clouds 
which  resembled  the  summits  of  lofty,  snow-covered  mountains. 
These  clouds,  by  the  contraction  and  expansion  of  their  vapory 
forms,  rolled  themselves  into  transparent  zones  of  white  satin, 
scattering  in  airy  masses  of  foam,  or  forming  in  the  heavens 
brilliant  beds  of  down  so  lovely  to  the  eye  that  you  would  have 
imagined  you  felt  their  softness  and  elasticity. 

The  scenery  on  the  earth  was  not  less  enchanting :  the  soft  and 
bluish  beams  of  the  moon  darted  through  the  intervals  between 
the  trees,  and  threw  streams  of  light  into  the  midst  of  the  most 
profound  darkness.  The  river  that  glided  at  my  feet  was  now 
lost  in  the  wood,  and  now  reappeared,  glistening  with  the  constel 
lations  of  night,  which  were  reflected  on  its  bosom.  In  a  vast 
plain  beyond  this  stream,  the  radiance  of  the  moon  reposed 
quietly  on  the  verdure.  Birch-trees,  scattered  here  and  there  in 
the  savanna,  and  agitated  by  the  breeze,  formed  shadowy  islands 
which  floated  on  a  motionless  sea  of  light.  Near  me,  all  was 
silence  and  repose,  save  the  fall  of  some  leaf,  the  transient 
rustling  of  a  sudden  breath  of  wind,  or  the  hooting  of  the  owl ; 
but  at  a  distance  was  heard,  at  intervals,  the  solemn  roar  of  the 
Falls  of  Niagara,  which,  in  tl)£  stillness  of  the  night,  was  prolonged 
from  desert  to  desert,  and  died  away  among  the  solitary  forests. 
15* 


174  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

The  grandeur,  the  astonishing  solemnity  of  this  scene,  cannot 
be  expressed  in  language ;  nor  can  the  most  delightful  nights  of 
Europe  afford  any  idea  of  it.  In  vain  does  imagination  attempt 
to  soar  in  our  cultivated  fields;  it  everywhere  meets  with  the 
habitations  of  men  :  but  in  those  wild  regions  the  mind  loves  to 
penetrate  into  an  ocean  of  forests,  to  hover  round  the  abysses  of 
cataracts,  to  meditate  on  the  banks  of  lakes  and  rivers,  and,  as  it 
were,  to  find  itself  alone  with  God. 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

PHYSICAL    MAN. 

To  complete  the  view  of  final  causes,  or  the  proofs  of  the 
existence  of  God,  deducible  from  the  wonders  of  nature,  we  have 
only  to  consider  man  in  his  physical  or  material  aspect;  and  here 
we  shall  quote  the  observations  of  those  who  were  thoroughly 
acquainted  with  the  subject. 

Cicero  describes  the  human  body  in  the  following  terms  :* 
"  With  respect  to  the  senses,  by  which  exterior  objects  are  con 
veyed  to  the  knowledge  of  the  soul,  their  structure  corresponds 
wonderfully  with  their  destination,  and  they  have  their  seat  in 
the  head  as  in  a  fortified  town.  The  eyes,  like  sentinels,  occupy 
the  most  elevated  place,  whence,  on  discovering  objects,  they 
may  give  the  alarm.  An  eminent  position  was  suited  to  the  ears, 
because  they  are  destined  to  receive  sounds,  which  naturally 
ascend.  The  nostrils  required  a  similar  situation,  because  odors 
likewise  ascend,  and  it  was  necessary  that  they  should  be  near 
the  mouth,  because  they  greatly  assist  us  in  judging  of  our  meat 
and  drink.  Taste,  by  which  we  are  apprised  of  tJhe  quality  of 
the  food  we  take,  resides  in  that  part  of  the  mouth  through  which 
nature  gives  a  passage  to  solids  and  liquids.  As  for  the  touch, 
it  is  generally  diffused  over  the  whole  body,  that  we  might  neither 
receive  any  impression,  nor  be  attacked  by  cold  or  heat,  without 
feeling  it.  And  as  an  architect  will  not  place  the  sewer  of  a 

1  De  Natura  Deorum,  lib.  ii. 


PHYSICAL   MAN.  175 


house  before  the  eyes  or  under  the  nose  of  his  employer,  -10  Na 
ture  has  removed  from  our  senses  every  thing  of  a  siinila;  kind 
in  the  human  body. 

"  But  what  other  artist  than  Nature,  whose  dexterity  is  incom 
parable,  could  have  formed  our  senses  with  such  exquisite  skill  ? 
She  has  covered  the  eyes  with  very  delicate  tunics,  transparent 
before,  that  we  might  see  through  them,  and  close  in  their  tex 
ture,  to  keep  the  eyes  in  their  proper  situation.  She  has  made 
them  smooth  and  moveable,  to  enable  them  to  avoid  every  thing 
by  which  they  might  be  injured  and  to  look  with  facility  to 
whatever  side  they  please.  The  pupil,  in  which  is  united  all 
that  constitutes  the  faculty  of  sight,  is  so  small  that  it  escapes 
without  difficulty  from  every  object  capable  of  doing  it  mischief. 
The  eyelids  have  a  soft  and  polished  surface,  that  they  may  not 
hurt  the  eyes  Whether  the  fear  of  some  accident  obliges  us  to 
shut  them,  or  we  choose  to  open  them,  the  eyelids  are  formed  in 
such  a  manner  as  to  adapt  themselves  to  either  of  these  motions, 
which  are  performed  in  an  instant ;  they  are,  if  we  may  so  ex 
press  it,  fortified  with  palisades  of  hair,  which  serve  to  repel 
whatever  may  attack  the  eyes  when  they  are  open,  and  to 
envelop  them  that  they  may  repose  in  peace  when  sleep  closes 
and  renders  them  useless  to  us.  Our  eyes  possess  the  additional 
advantage  of  being  concealed  and  defended  by  eminences  j  for, 
on  the  one  hand,  to  stop  the  sweat  that  trickles  down  from  the 
head  and  forehead,  they  have  projecting  eyebrows;  and  on  the 
other,  to  preserve  them  from  below,  they  have  cheeks  which  like 
wise  advance  a  little.  The  nose  is  placed  between  both  like  a 
wall  of  partition. 

"  With  respect  to  the  ear,  it  remains  continually  open,  because 
we  have  occasion  for  its  services,  even  when  asleep.  If  any 
sound  then  strikes  it,  we  are  awaked.  It  has  winding  channels, 
lest,  if  they  were  straight  and  level,  some  object  might  find  its 
way  into  them 

"And  then  our  hands, — how  convenient  are  they,  and  how  use 
ful  in  the  arts  !  The  fingers  are  extended  or  contracted  without 
the  least  difficulty,  so  extremely  flexible  are  their  joints.  With 
their  assistance  the  hands  use  the  pencil  and  the  chisel,  and  play 
on  the  lyre  arid  the  lute  :  so  much  for 'the  agreeable.  As  to  what 
is  necessary,  they  cultivate  the  earth,  build  houses,  make  clothes, 


176  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

and  work  in  copper  and  iron.  The  imagination  invents,  the 
senses  examine,  the  hand  executes;  so  that,  if  we  are  lodged, 
clothed,  and  sheltered, — if  we  have  cities,  walls,  habitations,  tem 
ples, — it  is  to  our  hands  that  we  are  indebted  for  all  these." 

It  must  be  allowed  that  matter  alone  could  no  more  have 
fashioned  the  human  body  for  so  many  admirable  purposes,  than 
this  beautiful  discourse  of  the  Roman  orator  could  have  been 
composed  by  a  writer  destitute  of  eloquence  and  of  skill.1 

Various  authors,  and  Nieuwentyt  in  particular,  have  proved 
that  the  bounds  within  which  our  senses  are  confined,  are  the 
very  limits  that  are  best  adapted  to  them,  and  that  we  should  be 
exposed  to  a  great  number  of  inconveniences  and  dangers  were 
the  senses  in  any  degree  enlarged.3  Galen,  struck  with  admira 
tion  in  the  midst  of  an  anatomical  analysis  of  a  human  body, 
suddenly  drops  the  scalpel,  and  exclaims  : 

"0  Thou  who  hast  made  us!  in  composing  a  discourse  so 
sacred,  I  think  that  I  am  chanting  a  hymn  to  thy  glory !  I  honor 
thee  more  by  unfolding  the  beauty  of  thy  works,  than  bv  sacri 
ficing  to  thee  whole  hecatombs  of  bulls  or  by  burning  in  thy 
temples  the  most  precious  incense.  True  piety  consists  in  first 
learning  to  know  myself,  and  then  in  teaching  others  the  great 
ness  of  thy  bounty,  thy  power,  and  thy  wisdom.  Thy  bounty  is 
conspicuous  in  the  equal  distribution  of  thy  presents,  having 
allotted  to  each  man  the  organs  which  are  necessary  for  him ;  thy 
wisdom  is  seen  in  the  excellence  of  thy  gifts,  and  thy  power  is 
displayed  in  the  execution  of  thy  designs."8 

1  Cicero  borrowed  what  he  says  concerning  the  service  of  the  hand  from 
Aristotle.    In  combating  the  philosophy  of  A naxagoras,  the  Stagyrite  observes, 
with  his  accustomed  sagacity,  that  man  is  not  superior  to  the  animals  because 
he  has  hands,  but  that  he  has  hands  because  he  is  superior  to  the  animals. 
Plato  likewise  adduces  the  structure  of  the  human  body  as  a  proof  of  a  divine 
intelligence;  and  there  are  some  sublime  sentences  in  Job  on  the  same  subject 

2  See  note  M. 

Stolen,  de  Usu  Part.,  lib  Hi.  o.  10. 


LOVE  OF  OUR  NATIVE  COUNTRY.  177 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

LOVE    OF    OUR    NATIVE    COUNTRY. 

As  we  have  considered  the  instincts  of  animals,  it  is  proper 
that  we  should  allude  to  those  of  physical  man ;  but  as  he  com 
bines  in  himself  the  feelings  of  different  classes  of  the  creation, 
such  as  parental  tenderness,  and  many  others,  we  shall  select  one 
quality  that  is  peculiar  to  him. 

The  instinct  with  which  man  is  pre-eminently  endued — that 
which  is  of  aU  the  most  beautiful  and  the  most  moral — is  the  love 
of  his  native  country.  If  this  law  were  not  maintained  by  a 
never-ceasing  miracle,  to  which,  however,  as  to  many  others,  we 
pay  not  the  smallest  attention,  all  mankind  would  crowd  together 
into  the  temperate  zones,  leaving  the  rest  of  the  earth  a  desert. 
We  may  easily  conceive  what  great  evils  would  result  from  this 
collection  of  the  human  family  on  one  point  of  the  globe.  To 
prevent  these  calamities,  Providence  has,  as  it  were,  fixed  the  feet 
of  each  individual  to  his  native  soil  by  an  invincible  magnet,  so 
that  neither  the  ices  of  Greenland  nor  the  burning  sands  of 
Africa  are  destitute  of  inhabitants. 

We  may  remark  still  further,  that  the  more  sterile  the  soil,  the 
more  rude  the  climate,  of  a  country,  or,  what  amounts  to  the  sams 
thing,  the  greater  the  injustice  arid  the  more  severe  the  persecu 
tion  we  have  suffered  there,  the  more  strongly  we  are  attached  to 
it.  Strange  and  sublime  truth!— that  misery  should  become  a 
bond  of  attachment,  and  that  those  who  have  lost  but  a  cottage 
should  most  feelingly  regret  the  paternal  habitation!  The  reason 
of  this  phenomenon  is,  that  the  profusion  of  a  too  fertile  soil  de 
stroys,  by  enriching  us,  the  simplicity  of  the  natural  ties  arising 
from  our  wants ;  when  we  cease  to  love  our  parents  and  our  rela 
tions  because  they  are  no  longer  necessary  to  us,  we  actually 
cease  also  to  love  our  country. 

Every  thing  tends  to  confirm  the  truth  of  this  remark.  A 
savage  is  more  powerfully  attached  to  his  hut  than  a  prince  to  his 
palace,  and  the  mountaineer  is  more  delighted  with  his  native 


178  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


rocks  than  the  inhabitant  of  the  plain  with  his  golden  corn-fields. 
Ask  a  Scotch  Highlander  if  he  would  exchange  his  lot  with  the 
first  potentate  of  the  earth.  When  far  removed  from  his  beloved 
mountains,  he  carries  with  him  the  recollection  of  them  whither 
soever  he  goes;  he  sighs  for  his  flocks,  his  torrents,  and  his 
clouds.  He  longs  to  eat  again  his  barley-bread,  to  drink  goat's 
milk,  and  to  sing  in  the  valley  the  ballads  which  were  sung  by 
his  forefathers.  He  pines  if  he  is  prevented  from  returning  to 
his  native  clime.  It  is  a  mountain  plant  which  must  be  rooted 
among  rocks;  it  cannot  thrive  unless  assailed  by  the  winds  and 
the  rain;  in  the  soil,  the  shelter,  and  the  sunshine  of  the  plain, 
it  quickly  droops  and  dies. 

With  what  joy  will  he  again  fly  to  his  roof  of  furze !  with  what 
delight  will  he  visit  all  the  sacred  relics  of  his  indigence ! 

"  Sweet  treasures !"  he  exclaims,  "  0  pledges  dear ! 
That  lying  and  envy  have  attracted  ne'er, 
Come  back :  from  all  this  royal  pomp  I  flee, 
For  all  is  but  an  idle  dream  to  me." 

Who  can  be  more  happy  than  the  Esquimaux,  in  his  frightful 
country?  What  to  him  are  all  the  flowers  of  our  climates  com 
pared  to  the  snows  of  Labrador,  and  all  our  palaces  to  his  smoky 
cabin  ?  He  embarks  in  spring,  with  his  wife,  on  a  fragment  of 
floating  ice.3  Hurried  along  by  the  currents,  he  advances  into 
the  open  sea  on  this  frozen  mass.  The  mountain  waves  over  the 
deep  its  trees  of  snow,  the  sea-wolves  revel  in  its  valleys,  and  the 
whales  accompany  it  on  the  dark  bosom  of  the  ocean.  The  dar 
ing  Indian,  under  the  shelter  afforded  by  his  frozen  mountain, 
presses  to  his  heart  the  wife  whom  God  has  given  him,  and  finds 
with  her  unknown  joys  in  this  mixture  of  perils  and  of  pleasures. 
It  should  be  observed,  however,  that  this  savage  has  very  good 
teasons  for  preferring  his  country  and  his  condition  to  ours.  De 
graded  as  his  nature  may  appear  to  us,  still,  we  may  discover  in 
him,  or  in  the  arts  he  practises,  something  that  displays  the  dig 
nity  of  man.  The  European  is  lost  every  day,  in  some  vessel 

1  "Doux  tresors!"  se  dit-il:  "chers  gages,  qui  jamais 

N'attirates  sur  vous  1'envie  et  le  mensonge, 
Je  vous  reprends:  sortons  cie  ces  riches  palais, 
Comme  Ton  sortiroit  d'un  songe. 

2  See  Hietci^e  de  la  Nouvelle  France,  by  Charlevoix. 


LOVE  OF  OUR  NATIVE  COUNTRY.  179 


which  is  a  master-piece  of  human  industry,  on  the  same  shores 
where  the  Esquimaux,  floating  in  a  seal's  skin,  smiles  at  every 
kind  of  danger.  Sometimes  he  hears  the  ocean  which  covers 
him  roaring  far  above  his  head ;  sometimes  mountain-billows  bear 
him  aloft  to  the  skies :  he  sports  among  the  surges,  as  a  child 
balances  himself  on  tufted  branches  in  the  peaceful  recesses  of 
the  forest.  When  God  placed  man  in  this  region  of  tempests,  he 
stamped  upon  him  a  mark  of  royalty.  "  Go/'  said  he  to  him  from 
amidst  the  whirlwind,  "go,  wretched  mortal;  I  cast  thee  naked 
upon  the  earth ;  but,  that  thy  destiny  may  not  be  misconceived, 
thou  shalt  subdue  the  monsters  of  the  deep  with  a  reed,  and  thou 
shalt  trample  the  tempests  under  thy  feet." 

Thus,  in  attaching  us  to  our  native  land,  Providence  justifies 
its  dealings  toward  us,  and  we  find  numberless  reasons  for  loving 
our  country.  The  Arab  never  forgets  the  well  of  the  camel,  the 
antelope,  and,  above  all,  the  horse,  the  faithful  companion  of  his 
journeys  through  his  paternal  deserts;  the  negro  never  ceases  to 
remember  his  cottage,  his  javelin,  his  banana,  and  the  track  of 
the  zebra  and  the  elephant  in  his  native  sands. 

It  is  related  that  an  English  cabin-boy  had  conceived  such  an 
attachment  for  the  ship  in  which  he  was  born  that  he  could 
never  be  induced  to  leave  it  for  a  single  moment.  The  greatest 
punishment  the  captain  could  inflict  was  to  threaten  him  with 
beino-  sent  ashore ;  on  these  occasions  he  would  run  with  loud 
shrieks  and  conceal  himself  in  the  hold.  What  inspired  the  little 
mariner  with  such  an  extraordinary  affection  for  a  plank  beaten 
by  the  winds  ?  Assuredly  not  associations  purely  local  and  phy 
sical.  Was  it  a  certain  moral  conformity  between  the  destinies 
of  man  and  those  of  a  ship  ?  or  did  he  perhaps  find  a  pleasure  in 
concentrating  his  joys  and  his  sorrows  in  what  we  may  justly  call 
his  cradle?  The  heart  is  naturally  fond  of  contracting  itself;  the 
more  it  is  compressed,  the  smaller  is  the  surface  which  is  liable 
to  be  wounded.  This  is  the  reason  why  persons  of  delicate  sensi 
bility—such  the  unfortunate  generally  are — prefer  to  live  in  retire 
ment.  What  sentiment  gains  in  energy  it  loses  in  extent.  When 
the  Roman  republic  was  bounded  by  the  Aventine  Mount,  her 
citizens  joyfully  sacrificed  their  lives  in  her  defence :  they  ceased 
to  love  her  when  the  Alps  and  Mount  Taurus  were  the  limits  of 
her  territory.  It  was  undoubtedly  some  reason  of  this  kind  that 


180  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

cherished  in  the  heart  of  the  English  youth  a  predilection  for  his 
paternal  vessel.  An  unknown  passenger  on  the  ocean  of  life,  he 
beheld  the  sea  rising  as  a  barrier  between  him  and  our  afflictions; 
happy  in  viewing  only  at  a  distance  the  melancholy  shores  of  the 
world ! 

Among  civilized  nations  the  love  of  country  has  performed 
prodigies.  The  designs  of  God  have  always  a  connection;  he 
has  grounded  upon  nature  this  affection  for  the  place  of  our 
nativity,  and  hence,  the  animal  partakes,  in  a  certain  degree,  of 
this  instinct  with  man ;  but  the  latter  carries  it  farther,  and  trans 
forms  into  a  virtue  what  was  only  a  sentiment  of  universal  con 
cordance.  Thus  the  physical  and  moral  laws  of  the  universe  are 
linked  together  in  an  admirable  chain.  We  even  doubt  whether 
it  be  possible  to  possess  one  genuine  virtue,  one  real  talent,  with 
out  the  love  of  our  native  country.  In  war  this  passion  has  ac 
complished  wonders;  in  literature  it  produced  a  Homer  and  a 
Virgil.  The  former  delineates  in  preference  to  all  others  the 
manners  of  Ionia,  where  he  drew  his  first  breath,  and  the  latter 
feasted  on  the  remembrance  of  his  native  place.  Born  in  a  cot 
tage,  and  expelled  from  the  inheritance  of  his  ancestors,  these 
two  circumstances  seem  to  have  had  an  extraordinary  influence 
on  the  genius  of  Virgil,  giving  to  it  that  melancholy  tint  which 
is  one  of  its  principal  charms.  He  recalls  these  events  continu 
ally,  and  shows  that  the  country  where  he  passed  his  youth  was 
always  before  his  eyes : 

Et  dulcis  moriens  reminiscitur  Argos.1 

But  it  is  the  Christian  religion  that  has  invested  patriotism 
with  its  true  character.  This  sentiment  led  to  the  commission 
of  crime  among  the  ancients,  because  it  was  carried  to  excess; 
Christianity  has  made  it  one  of  the  principal  affections  in  man, 
but  not  an  exclusive  one.  It  commands  us  above  all  things  to 
be  just;  it  requires  us  to  cherish  the  whole  family  of  Adam, 
since  we  ourselves  belong  to  it,  though  our  countrymen  have  the 
first  claim  to  our  attachment.  This  morality  was  unknown  before 
the  coming  of  the  Christian  lawgiver,  who  has  been  unjustly  ac 
cused  of  attempting  to  extirpate  the  passions :  God  destroys  not 

1  jffineid,  lib.  x. 


LOVE  OF  OUR  NATIVE  COUNTRY.  181 


his  own  work.  The  gospel  is  not  the  destroyer  of  the  heart,  but 
its  regulator.  It  is  to  our  feelings  what  taste  is  to  the  fine  arts; 
it  retrenches  all  that  is  exaggerated,  false,  common,  and  trivial; 
it  leaves  all  that  is  fair,  and  good,  and  true.  The  Christian  reli 
gion,  rightly  understood,  is  only  primitive  nature  washed  from 
original  pollution. 

It  is  when  at  a  distance  from  our  country  that  we  feel  the  full 
force  of  the  instinct  by  which  we  are  attached  to  it.  For  want 
of  the  reality,  we  try  to  feed  upon  dreams;  for  the  heart  is  expert 
in  deception,  and  there  is  no  one  who  has  been  suckled  at  the 
breast  of  woman  but  has  drunk  of  the  cup  of  illusion.  Some 
times  it  is  a  cottage  which  is  situated  like  the  paternal  habitation ; 
sometimes  it  is  a  wood,  a  valley,  a  hill,  on  which  we  bestow  some 
of  the  sweet  appellations  of  our  native  land.  Andromache  gives 
the  name  of  Simois  to  a  brook.  And  what  an  affecting  object  is 
this  little  rillv which  recalls  the  idea  of  a  mighty  river  in  her 
native  country !  Remote  from  the  soil  which  gave  us  birth,  na 
ture  appears  to  us  diminished,  and  but  the  shadow  of  that  which 
we  have  lost. 

Another  artifice  of  the  love  of  country  is  to  attach  a  great 
value  to  an  object  of  little  intrinsic  worth,  but  which  comes  from 
our  native  land,  and  which  we  have  brought  with  us  into  exile. 
The  soul  seems  to  dwell  even  upon  the  inanimate  things  which 
have  shared  our  destiny :  we  remain  attached  to  the  down  on 
which  our  prosperity  has  slumbered,  and  still  more  to  the  straw 
on  which  we  counted  the  days  of  our  adversity.  The  vulgar  have 
an  energetic  expression,  to  describe  that  languor  which  oppresses 
the  soul  when  away  from  our  country.  "That  man,"  they  say, 
"is  home-sick."  A  sickness  it  really  is,  and  the  only  cure 
for  it  is  to  return.  If,  however,  we  have  been  absent  a  few 
7ears,  what  do  we  find  in  the  place  of  our  nativity  ?  How  few 
of  those  whom  we  left  behind  in  the  vigor  of  health  are  still 
alive!  Here  are  tombs  where  once  stood  palaces;  there  rise 
palaces  where  we  left  tombs.  The  paternal  field  is  overgrown 
wi+h  briers  or  cultivated  by  the  plough  of  a  stranger;  and  the 
tree  beneath  which  we  frolicked  in  our  boyish  days  has  dis 
appeared. 

In  Louisiana  there  were  two  females,  one  a  negro,  the  other  an 
16 


182  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Indian,  who  were  the  slaves  of  two  neighboring  planters  Each 
of  the  women  had  a  child ;  the  black  a  little  girl  two  years  old, 
and  the  Indian  a  boy  of  the  same  age.  The  latter  died.  The  two 
unfortunate  women  having  agreed  upon  a  solitary  spot,  repaired 
thither  three  successive  nights.  The  one  brought  her  dead  child, 
the  other  her  living  infant;  the  one  her  Manitou,  the  other  her 
Fetiche.  They  were  not  surprised  thus  to  find  themselves  of  the 
same  religion,  both  being  wretched.  The  Indian  performed  the 
honors  of  the  solitude:  "  This  is  the  tree  of  my  native  land," 
said  she;  "sit  down  there  and  weep."  Then,  in  accordance 
with  the  funeral  custom  of  savage  nations,  they  suspended  their 
children  from  the  branch  of  a  catalpa  or  sassafras-tree,  and  rocked 
them  while  singing  some  patriotic  air.  Alas  !  these  maternal 
amusements,  which  had  oft  lulled  innocence  to  sleep,  were  inca 
pable  of  awaking  death  !  Thus  these  women  consoled  themselves; 
the  one  had  lost  her  child  and  her  liberty,  the  other  her  liberty 
und  her  country.  We  find  a  solace  even  in  tears. 

It  is  said  that  a  Frenchman,  who  was  obliged  to  fly  during  the 
reign  of  terror,  purchased  with  the  little  he  had  left  a  boat  upon 
the  Rhine.  Here  he  lived  with  his  wife  and  two  children.  As 
he  had  no  money,  no  one  showed  him  any  hospitality.  When  he 
was  driven  from  one  shore,  he  passed  without  complaining  to  the 
other;  and,  frequently  persecuted  on  both  sides,  he  was  obliged  to 
cast  anchor  in  the  middle  of  the  river.  He  fished  for  the  sup 
port  of  his  family;  but  even  this  relief  sent  by  divine  Providence 
he  was  not  allowed  to  enjoy  in  peace.  At  night  he  went  to  col 
lect  some  dry  grass  to  make  a  fire,  and  his  wife  remained  in  cruel 
anxiety  till  his  return.  Obliged  to  lead  the  life  of  outcasts, 
among  four  great  civilized  nations,  this  family  had  not  a  single 
spot  on  earth  where  thej  durst  set  their  feet ;  their  only  consola 
tion  was,  that  while  they  wandered  in  the  vicinity  of  France  they 
could  sometimes  inhale  the  breeze  which  had  passed  over  their 
native  land. 

Were  we  asked,  what  are  those  powerful  ties  which  bind  us  to 
the  place  of  our  nativity,  we  would  find  some  difficulty  in  answer 
ing  the  question.  It  is,  perhaps,  the  sniile  of  a  mother,  of  a 
father,  of  a  sister ;  it  is,  perhaps,  the  recollection  of  the  old  pre- 
ceptoT  who  instructed  us  and  of  the  young  companions  of  our 


LOVE   OF   OUR   NATIVE  COUNTRY.  183 


childhood ;  it  is,  perhaps,  the  care  bestowed  upon  us  by  a  tender 
Qurse,  by  some  aged  domestic,  so  essential  a  part  of  the  house 
hold  ;  finally,  it  is  something  most  simple,  and,  if  you  please,  most 
trivial,— a  dog  that  barked  at  night  in  the  fields,  a  nightingale 
that  returned  every  year  to  the  orchard,  the  nest  of  the  swallow 
over  the  window,  the  village  clock  that  appeared  above  the  trees, 
the  churchyard  yew,  or  the  Gothic  tomb.  Yet  these  simple 
things  demonstrate  the  more  clearly  the  reality  of  a  Providence, 
as  they  could  not  possibly  be  the  source  of  patriotism,  or  of  the 
great  virtues  which  it  begets,  unless  by  the  appointment  of  the 
Almighty  himself. 


BOOK    VI. 

THE    IMMORTALITY    OF    THE    SOUL    PROVED    BY  THE 
MORAL  LAW  AND  THE  FEELINGS. 

CHAPTER   I. 

DESIRE    OF    HAPPINESS    IN    MAN. 

WERE  there  no  other  proofs  of  the  existence  of  God  than  the 
wonders  of  nature,  these  evidences  are  so  strong  that  they  would 
convince  any  sincere  inquirer  after  truth.  But  if  they  who  deny 
a  Providence  are,  for  that  very  reason,  unable  to  explain  the 
wonders  of  the  creation,  they  are  still  more  puzzled  when  they 
undertake  to  answer  the  objections  of  their  own  hearts.  By 
renouncing  the  Supreme  Being,  they  are  obliged  to  renounce  a 
future  state.  The  soul  nevertheless  disturbs  them;  she  appears, 
as  it  were,  every  moment  before  them,  and  compels  them,  in 
spite  of  their  sophistry,  to  acknowledge  her  existence  and  her 
immortality. 

Let  them  inform  us,  in  the  first  place,  if  the  soul  is  extin 
guished  at  the  moment  of  death,  whence  proceeds  the  desire  of 
happiness  which  continually  haunts  us  ?  All  our  passions  here 
below  may  easily  be  gratified ;  love,  ambition,  anger,  have  their 
full  measure  of  enjoyment :  the  desire  of  happiness  is  the  only 
one  that  cannot  be  satisfied,  and  that  fails  even  of  an  object,  as 
we  know  not  what  that  felicity  is  which  we  long  for.  It  must  be 
admitted,  that  if  every  thing  is  matter,  nature  has  here  made  a 
strange  mistake,  in  creating  a  desire  without  any  object. 

Certain  it  is  that  the  soul  is  eternally  craving.  No  sooner  has 
it  attained  the  object  for  which  it  yearned,  than  a  new  wish  is 
formed ;  and  the  whole  universe  cannot  satisfy  it.  Infinity  is  the 
only  field  adapted  to  its  nature ;  it  delights  to  lose  itself  in  num 
bers,  to  conceive  the  greatest  as  well  as  the  smallest  dimensions, 
and  to  multiply  without  end.  Filled  at  length,  but  not  satisfied 

with  all  that  it  has  devoured,  it  seeks  the  bosom  of  the  Deity,  in 
184 


DESIRE   OF   HAPPINESS   IN   MAN.  185 


whom  centre  all  ideas  of  infinity,  whether  in  perfection,  duration, 
or  space.  But  it  seeks  the  bosom  of  Deity  only  because  he  is  a 
being  full  of  mystery,  aa  hidden  God."1  If  it  had  a  clear  ap 
prehension  of  the  divine  nature,  it  would  undervalue  it,  as  it  does 
all  other  objects  that  its  intellect  is  capable  of  measuring;  for, 
if  it  could  fully  comprehend  the  eternal  principle,  it  would  be 
either  superior  or  equal  to  this  principle.  It  is  not  in  divine  as 
it  is  in  human  things.  A  man  may  understand  the  power  of  a 
king  without  being  a  king  himself;  but  he  cannot  understand 
the  divinity  without  being  God. 

The  inferior  animals  are  not  agitated  by  this  hope  which  mani 
fests  itself  in  the  heart  of  man ;  they  immediately  attain  their 
highest  degree  of  happiness ;  a  handful  of  grass  satisfies  the 
lamb,  a  little  blood  is  sufficient  for  the  tiger.  If  we  were  to 
assert,  with  some  philosophers,  that  the  different  conformation  of 
the  organs  constitutes  all  the  difference  between  us  and  the  brute, 
this  mode  of  reasoning  could,  at  the  farthest,  be  admitted  only  in 
relation  to  purely  material  acts.  But  of  what  service  is  my  hand 
to  my  mind,  when  amid  the  silence  of  night  I  soar  through  the 
regions  of  boundless  space,  to  discover  the  Architect  of  so  many 
worlds  ?  Why  does  not  the  ox  act  in  this  respect  as  I  do  ?  His 
eyes  are  sufficient;  and  if  he  had  my  legs  or  my  arms,  they 
would  for  this  purpose  be  totally  useless  to  him.  He  may  repose 
upon  the  turf,  he  may  raise  his  head  toward  the  sky,  and  by  his 
bellowing  call  upon  the  unknown  Being  who  fills  the  immense 
expanse.  But  no  :  he  prefers  the  grass  on  which  he  treads;  and 
while  those  millions  of  suns  that  adorn  the  firmament  furnish  the 
strongest  evidences  of  a  Deity,  the  animal  consults  them  not ;  he 
is  insensible  to  the  prospect  of  nature,  and  unconscious  that  he 
is  himself  thrown  beneath  the  tree  at  the  foot  of  which  he  lies, 
as  a  slight  proof  of  a  divine  Intelligence. 

Man,  therefore,  is  the  only  creature  that  wanders  abroad,  and 
looks  for  happiness  out  of  himself.  The  vulgar,  we  are  told,  feel 
not  this  mysterious  restlessness.  They  are  undoubtedly  less  un 
happy  than  we,  for  they  are  diverted  by  laborious  occupations 
from  attending  to  their  desires,  and  drown  the  thirst  of  felicity 
in  the  sweat  of  their  brow.  But  when  you  see  them  toil  six 


'  Is.  xlv.  15. 
16* 


186  -         GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


days  in  the  week  that  they  may  enjoy  a  little  pleasure  on  the 
seventh, — when,  incessantly  hoping  for  repose  and  never  finding 
it,  they  sink  into  the  grave  without  eeasing  to  desire, — will  you  say 
that  they  share  not  the  secret  aspiration  of  all  men  after  an  un 
known  happiness  ?  You  may  reply,  that  in  the  class  of  which  we 
are  speaking  this  wish  is  at  least  limited  to  terrestrial  things ; 
but  your  assertion  remains  to  be  proved.  Give  the  poorest  wretch 
all  the  treasures  in  the  world,  put  an  end  to  his  toils,  satisfy  all 
his  wants,  and  you  will  observe  that,  before  a  few  months  have 
elapsed,  his  heart  will  conceive  new  desires  and  new  hopes. 

Besides,  is  it  true  that  the  lower  classes,  even  in  their  state  of 
indigence,  are  strangers  to  that  thirst  of  happiness  which  extends 
beyond  this  life  ?  Whence  proceeds  that  air  of  seriousness  often 
observed  in  the  rustic  ?  We  have  often  seen  him  on  Sundays 
and  other  festive  days,  while  the  people  of  the  village  were  gone 
to  offer  up  their  prayers  to  that  Reaper  who  will  separate  the 
wheat  from  the  tares, — we  have  often  seen  him  standing  alone  at 
the  door  of  his  cottage  j  he  listened  with  attention  to  the  sound 
of  the  bell ;  his  air  was  pensive,  and  the  sparrows  that  played 
around  him  and  the  insects  that  buzzed  in  every  direction 
seemed  not  to  distract  him.  Behold  that  noble  figure,  placed  like 
the  statue  of  a  god  upon  the  threshold  of  a  cabin ;  that  brow, 
sublime  though  wrinkled  with  care ;  and  then  say  if  this  being, 
so  majestic,  though  indigent,  could  be  thinking  of  nothing,  or 
reflecting  only  on  things  of  this  world.  Ah,  no  !  such  was  not 
the  expression  of  those  half-open  lips,  of  that  motionless  body, 
of  those  eyes  fixed  on  the  ground :  recollections  of  God  surely 
accompanied  the  sound  of  the  religious  bell. 

If  it  is  impossible  to  deny  that  man  cherishes  hopes  to  the 
very  tomb, — if  it  is  certain  that  all  earthly  possessions,  so  far 
from  crowning  our  wishes,  only  serve  to  increase  the  void  in  the 
soul, — we  cannot  but  conclude  that  there  must  be  a  something 
beyond  the  limits  of  time.  "  The  ties  of  this  world,"  says  St. 
Augustin,  "are  attended  with  real  hardship  and  false  pleasure; 
certain  pains  and  uncertain  joys;  hard  labor  and  unquiet  rest;  a 
situation  fraught  with  wo  and  a  hope  void  of  felicity."1  Instead 

1  Vincula  hujus  mundi  asperitatem  habent  veram,  jucunditatem  falsain  ; 
certum  dolorem,  incertam  voluptatem  ;  durum  la-bore  in,  timidam  quietem :  rem 
plenam  miseries,  spem  beatitudinis  inaneui. — Epist.  30A 


REMORSE   AND   CONSCIENCE.  187 


of  complaining  that  the  desire  of  happiness  has  leen  placed  in 
this  world,  and  its  object  in  the  other,  let  us  admire  in  this 
arrangement  the  beneficence  of  God.  Since  we  must  sooner  or 
later  quit  this  mortal  life,  Providence  has  placed  beyond  the  fatal 
boundary  a  charm  which  attracts  us,  in  order  to  diminish  our 
horror  of  the  grave :  thus,  the  affectionate  mother  who  wishes 
her  child  to  cross  a  certain  limit,  holds  some  pleasing  object  on 
the  other  side  to  encourage  him  to  pass  it. 


CHAPTER  II. 

REMORSE   AND    CONSCIENCE. 

CONSCIENCE  furnishes  a  second  proof  of  the  immortality  of  the 
soul.  Each  individual  has  within  his  own  heart  a  tribunal,  where 
he  sits  in  judgment  on  himself  till  the  Supreme  Arbiter  shall  con 
firm  the  sentence.  If  vice  is  but  a  physical  consequence  of  our 
organization,  whence  arises  this  dread  which  embitters  the  days 
of  prosperous  guilt  ?  Why  is  remorse  so  terrible  that  many  would 
choose  rather  to  submit  to  poverty  and  all  the  rigors  of  virtue 
than  enrich  themselves  with  ill-gotten  goods  ?  What  is  it  that 
gives  a  voice  to  blood  and  speech  to  stones  ?  The  tiger  devours 
his  prey,  and  slumbers  quietly;  man  takes  the  life  of  his  fellow- 
creature,  and  keeps  a  fearful  vigil !  He  seeks  some  desert  place, 
and  yet  this  solitude  affrights  him;  he  skulks  about  the  tombs, 
and  yet  the  tombs  fill  him  with  horrors.  His  eyes  are  wild  and 
restless;  he  dares  not  fix  them  on  the  wall  of  the  banqueting- 
room,  for  fear  he  should  discover  there  some  dreadful  signs.  All 
his  senses  seem  to  become  more  acute  in  order  to  torment  him : 
he  perceives  at  night  threatening  confiscations;  he  is  always  sur 
rounded  by  the  smell  of  carnage ;  he  suspects  the  taste  of  poison 
in  the  food  which  he  has  himself  prepared;  his  ear,  now  wonder 
fully  sensitive,  hears  a  noise  where  for  others  there  is  profound 
silence;  and  when  embracing  his  friend,  he  fancies  that  he  feels 
under  his  garments  a  hidden  dagger. 

Conscience !  is  it  possible  that  thou  canst  be  but  a  phantom  of 


188  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


the  imagination,  or  the  fear  of  the  punishment  of  men?  I  ask 
my  own  heart,  I  put  to  myself  this  question:  "If  thou  couldst 
by  a  mere  wish  kill  a  fellow-creature  in  China,  and  inherit  his 
fortune  in  Europe,  with  the  supernatural  conviction  that  the  fact 
would  never  be  known,  wouldst  thou  consent  to  form  such  a 
wish?"  In  vain  do  I  exaggerate  my  indigence;  iu  vain  do  I 
attempt  to  extenuate  the  murder,  by  supposing  that  through  the 
effect  of  my  wish  the  Chinese  expires  instantaneously  and  with 
out  pain  that,  had  he  even  died  a  natural  death,  his  property, 
from  the  situation  of  his  affairs,  would  have  been  lost  to  the 
state ;  in  vain  do  I  figure  to  myself  this  stranger  overwhelmed 
with  disease  and  affliction ;  in  vain  do  I  urge  that  to  him  death 
is  a  blessing,  that  he  himself  desires  it,  that  he  has  but  a  moment 
longer  to  live :  in  spite  of  all  my  useless  subterfuges,  I  hear  a 
voice  in  the  recesses  of  my  soul,  protesting  so  loudly  against  the 
mere  idea  of  such  a  supposition,  that  I  cannot  for  one  moment 
doubt  the  reality  of  conscience. 

It  is  a  deplorable  necessity,  then,  that  compels  a  man  to  deny 
remorse,  that  he  may  deny  the  immortality  of  the  soul  and  the 
existence  of  an  avenging  Deity.  Full  well  we  know,  that  athe 
ism,  when  driven  to  extremities,  has  recourse  to  this  disgraceful 
denial.  The  sophist,  in  a  paroxysm  of  the  gout,  exclaimed,  "  0 
pain  !  never  will  I  acknowledge  that  thou  art  an  evil !"  Were  it 
even  true  that  there  exist  men  so  unfortunate  as  to  be  capable  of 
stifling  the  voice  of  conscience,  what  then?  We  must  not  judge 
of  him  who  possesses  the  perfect  use  of  his  limbs  by  the  paralytic 
who  is  deprived  of  his  physical  strength.  Guilt,  in  its  highest 
degree,  is  a  malady  which  sears  the  soul.  By  overthrowing  reli 
gion  we  destroy  the  only  remedy  capable  of  restoring  sensibility 
in  the  morbid  regions  of  the  heart.  This  astonishing  religion  of 
Christ  is  a  sort  of  supplement  to  the  deficiency  of  the  human 
mind.  Do  we  sin  ly  excess,  by  too  great  prosperity,  by  violence 
of  temper  ?  she  is  at  hand  to  warn  us  of  the  fickleness  of  fortune 
and  the  danger  of  angry  excitement.  Are  we  exposed,  on  tho 
contrary,  to  sin  by  defect,  by  indigence,  by  indifference  of  soul  ? 
she  teaches  us  to  despise  riches,  at  the  same  time  warms  OUT 
frigid  hearts,  and,  as  it  were,  kindles  in  us  the  fire  of  the  passions. 
Toward  the  criminal,  in  particular,  her  charity  is  inexhaustible ; 
no  man  is  so  depraved  but  she  admits  him  to  repentance,  no 


REMORSE  AND  CONSCIENCE. 


leper  so  disgusting  but  she  cures  him  with  her  pure  hands.  For 
the  past  she  requires  only  remorse,  for  the  future  only  virtue : 
"where  sin  abounded,"  she  says,  "grace  did  much  more  abound."1 
Ever  ready  to  warn  the  sinner,  Jesus  Christ  established  his  reli 
gion  as  a  second  conscience  for  the  hardened  culprit  who  should 
be  so  unfortunate  as  to  have  lost  the  natural  one, — an  evangelical 
conscience,  full  of  pity  and  indulgence,  to  which  the  Son  of  God 
has  given  the  power  to  pardon,  which  is  not  possessed  by  the 
conscience  of  man. 

Having  spoken  of  the  remorse  which  follows  guilt,  it  would  be 
unnecessary  to  say  any  thing  of  the  satisfaction  attendant  on  vir 
tue.  The  inward  delight  which  we  feel  in  doing  a  good  action 
is  no  more  a  combination  of  matter  than  the  accusation  of  con 
science,  when  we  commit  a  bad  one,  is  fear  of  the  laws. 

If  sophists  maintain  that  virtue  and  pity  are  but  self-love  in 
disguise,  ask  them  not  if  they  ever  felt  any  secret  satisfaction 
after  relieving  a  distressed  object,  or  if  it  is  the  fear  of  returning 
to  the  state  of  childhood  that  affects  them  when  contemplating 
the  innocence  of  the  new-born  infant.  Virtue  and  tears  are  for 
men  the  source  of  hope  and  the  groundwork  of  faith;  how  then 
should  he  believe  in  God  who  believes  neither  in  the  reality  of 
virtue  nor  in  the  truth  of  tears  ? 

It  would  be  an  insult  to  the  understanding  of  our  readers,  did 
we  attempt  to  show  how  the  immortality  of  the  soul  and  the  ex 
istence  of  God  are  proved  by  that  inward  voice  called  conscience. 
"There  is  in  man,"  says  Cicero,  "a  power  which  inclines  him 
to  that  which  is  good  and  deters  him  from  evil;  which  was  not 
only  prior  to  the  origin  of  nations  and  cities,  but  as  ancient  as 
that  God  by  whom  heaven  and  earth  subsist  and  are  governed : 
for  reason  is  an  essential  attribute  of  the  divine  intelligence;  and 
.  that  reason  which  exists  in  God  necessarily  determines  what  is 
vice  and  what  is  virtue."2 


Rom.  v.  20.  a  Ad.  Attic.,  xii.  38. 


J90  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  III. 

THERE  CAN  BE  NO  MORALITY  IF  THERE  BE  NO  FUTURE  STATE 

PRESUMPTION    IN    FAVOR  OF  THE    IMMORTALITY  OF  THE  SOUL 
DEDUCED  FROM  THE  RESPECT  OF  MAN  FOR  TOMBS. 

MORALITY  is  the  basis  of  society ;  but  if  man  is  a  mere  mass 
of  matter,  there  is  in  reality  neither  vice  nor  virtue,  and  of  course 
morality  is  a  mere  sham.  Our  laws,  which  are  ever  relative  and 
variable,  cannot  serve  as  the  support  of  morals,  which  are  always 
absolute  and  unalterable;  they  must,  therefore,  rest  on  something 
more  permanent  than  the  present  life,  and  have  better  guarantees 
than  uncertain  rewards  or  transient  punishments.  Some  philo 
sophers  have  supposed  that  religion  was  invented  in  order  to  up 
hold  morality :  they  were  not  aware  that  they  were  taking  the 
effect  for  the  cause.  It  is  not  religion  that  springs  from  morals, 
but  morals  that  spring  from  religion;  since  it  is  certain,  as  we 
have  just  observed,  that  morals  cannot  have  their  principle  in 
physical  man  or  mere  matter;  and  that  men  no  sooner  divest 
themselves  of  the  idea  of  a  God  than  they  rush  into  every  spe 
cies  of  crime,  in  spite  of  laws  and  of  executioners. 

It  is  well  known  that  a  religion  which  recently  aspired  to  erect 
itself  on  the  ruins  of  Christianity,  and  fancied  that  it  could  sur 
pass  the  gospel,  enforced  in  our  churches  that  precept  of  the  De 
calogue :  Children,  honor  your  parents.  But  why  did  the  Theo- 
philanthropists  retrench  the  latter  part  of  this  precept, — that  ye 
may  live  long  fl  Because  a  secret  sense  of  poverty  taught  them 
that  the  man  who  has  nothing  can  give  nothing  away.  How. 
could  he  have  promised  length  of  years  who  is  not  sure  himself 
of  living  two  minutes?  We  might  with  justice  have  said  to  him, 
"  Thou  makest  me  a  present  of  life,  and  perceivest  not  that  thou 
art  thyself  sinking  into  dust  ?  Like  Jehovah,  thou  assurest  me 

1  The  Theophilanthropists,  hardly  deserving  the  name  of  a  religious  sect, 
arose  out  of  the  infatuation  of  the  French  revolution.  Their  system  was  partly 
positive  and  partly  negative;  they  were  advocates  of  some  scraps  of  morality ; 
and  they  denied  the  doctrine  of  the  resurrection.  K. 


CERTAIN  OBJECTIONS  ANSWERED.  191 


Ji  protracted  existence,  but  where  is  thy  eternity  like  his  from 
which  to  dispense  it?  Thoughtless  mortal!  even  the  present 
rapid  hour  is  not  thine  own;  thine  only  inheritance  is  death: 
what  then  but  nothingness  canst  thou  draw  forth  from  the  bot 
tom  of  thy  sepulchre  to  recompense  my  virtue  ?" 

There  is  another  moral  proof  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul  on 
which  it  is  necessary  to  insist, — that  is,  the  veneration  of  mankind 
for  tombs.  By  an  invisible  charm,  life  and  death  are  here  linked 
together,  and  human  nature  proves  itself  superior  to  the  rest  of 
the  creation,  and  appears  in  all  its  high  destinies.  Does  the  brute 
know  any  thing  about  a  coffin,  or  does  he  concern  himself  about 
his  remains  ?  What  to  him  are  the  bones  of  his  parent,  or,  rather, 
can  he  distinguish  his  parent  after  the  cares  of  infancy  are  past? 
Whence  comes,  then,  the  powerful  impression  that  is  made  upon 
us  by  the  tomb  ?  Are  a  few  grains  of  dust  deserving  of  our  vene 
ration  ?  Certainly  not ;  we  respect  the  ashes  of  our  ancestors  for 
this  reason  only — because  a  secret  voice  whispers  to  us  that  all  is 
not  extinguished  in  them.  It  is  this  that  confers  a  sacred  cha 
racter  on  the  funeral  ceremony  among  all  the  nations  of  the 
globe ;  all  are  alike  persuaded  that  the  sleep  even  of  the  tomb  is 
not  everlasting,  and  that  death  is  but  a  glorious  transfiguration. 


CHAPTER    IV. 

OF    CERTAIN    OBJECTIONS. 

WITHOUT  entering  too  deeply  into  metaphysical  proofs,  which 
we  have  studiously  avoided,  we  shall  nevertheless  endeavor  to 
answer  certain  objections  which  are  incessantly  brought  forward. 
Cicero  has  asserted,  after  Plato,  that  there  is  no  people  among 
whom  there  exists  not  some  notion  of  the  Deity.  But  this  uni 
versal  consent  of  nations,  which  the  ancient  philosophers  con 
sidered  as  a  law  of  nature,  has  been  denied  by  modern  infidels, 
who  maintain  that  certain  tribes  of  savages  have  no  idea  of  God. 

In  vain  do  atheists  strive  to  conceal  the  weakness  of  their  cause. 
The  result  of  all  their  arguments  is  that  their  system  is  grounded 


192  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


on  exceptions  alone,  whereas  the  belief  of  a  God  forms  the  general 
rule.  If  you  assert  that  all  mankind  believe  in  a  Supreme  Being, 
the  infidel  first  objects  to  you  some  particular  tribe  of  savages, 
then  some  particular  individual,  or  himself,  who  are  of  a  different 
opinion.  If  you  assert  that  chance  could  not  have  formed  the 
world,  because  there  could  have  been  but  one  single  favorable 
chance  against  innumerable  impossibilities,  the  infidel  admits  the 
position,  but  replies  that  this  chance  actually  did  exist ;  and  the 
same  mode  of  reasoning  he  pursues  on  every  subject.  Thus, 
according  to  the  atheist,  nature  is  a  book  in  which  truth  is  to  be 
found  only  in  the  notes  and  never  in  the  text;  a  language  the 
genius  and  essence  of  which  consist  in  its  barbarisms. 

When  we  come  to  examine  these  pretended  exceptions,  we 
discover  either  that  they  arise  from  local  causes,  or  that  they  even 
fall  under  the  established  law.  In  the  case  alleged,  for  example, 
it  is  false  that  there  are  any  savages  who  have  no  notion  of  a 
Heity.  The  early  travellers  who  advanced  this  assertion  have 
been  contradicted  by  others  who  were  better  informed.  Among 
the  infidels  of  the  ^forest  were  numbered  the  Canadian  hordes ; 
but  we  have  seen  these  sophists  of  the  cabin,  who  were  supposed 
to  have  read  in  the  book  of  nature,  as  our  sophists  have  in  theirs, 
that  there  is  no  God,  nor  any  future  state  for  man ;  and  we  must 
say  that  these  Indians  are  absurd  barbarians,  who  perceive  the 
soul  of  an  infant  in  a  dove,  and  that  of  a  little  girl  in  the  sensi 
tive  plant.  Mothers  among  them  are  so  silly  as  to  sprinkle  their 
milk  upon  a  grave;  and  they  give  to  man  in  the  sepulchre  the 
same  attitude  which  he  had  in  the  maternal  womb.  May  not 
this  be  done  to  intimate  that  death  is  but  a  second  mother,  by 
whom  we  are  brought  forth  into  another  life?  Atheism  will 
never  make  any  thing  of  those  nations  which  are  indebted  to 
Providence  for  lodging,  food,  and  raiment;  and  we  would  advise 
the  infidel  to  beware  of  these  bribed  allies,  who  secretly  receive 
presents  from  the  enemy. 

Another  objection  is  this :  "  Since  the  mind  acquires  and  loses 
its  energies  with  age, — since  it  follows  all  the  alterations  of  mat 
ter, — it  must  be  of  a  material  nature,  consequently  divisible  and 
liable  to  perish/' 

Either  the  mind  and  the  body  are  two  distinct  beings,  or  they 
are  but  one  and  the  same  substance.  If  there  are  two,  you  must 


CERTAIN  OBJECTIONS  ANSWERED.  193 


admit  that  the  mind  is  comprehended  in  the  body;  hence  it 
follows  that,  as  long  as  this  union  lasts,  the  mind  cannot  but  be 
affected  in  a  certain  degree  by  the  bonds  in  which  it  is  held.  It 
will  appear  to  be"  elevated  or  depressed  in  the  same  proportion  as 
its  mortal  tabernacle.  The  objection,  therefore,  is  done  away  in 
the  hypothesis  by  which  the  mind  and  the  body  are  considered  as 
two  distinct,  substances. 

If  you  suppose  that  they  form  but  one  and  the  same  substance, 
partaking  alike  of  life  and  death,  you  are  bound  to  prove  the  as 
sertion.  But  it  has  long  been  demonstrated  that  the  mind  is 
essentially  different  from  motion  and  the  other  properties  of  mat 
ter,  being  susceptible  neither  of  extension  nor  division. 

Thus  the  objection  falls  entirely  to  the  ground,  since  the  only 
point  to  be  ascertained  is,  whether  matter  and  thought  be  one  and 
the  same  thing :  a  position  which  cannot  be  maintained  without 
absurdity. 

Let  it  not  be  imagined  that,  in  having  recourse  to  prescription 
for  the  solution  of  this  difficulty,  we  are,  therefore,  unable  to  sap 
its  very  foundation.  It  may  be  proved  that  even  when  the  mind 
seems  to  follow  the  contingencies  of  the  body,  it  retains  the  dis 
tinguishing  characters  of  its  essence.  For  instance,  atheists  tri 
umphantly  adduce,  in  support  of  their  views,  insanity,  injuries  of 
the  brain,  and  delirious  fevers.  To  prop  their  wretched  system, 
these  unfortunate  men  are  obliged  to  enrol  all  the  ills  of  human 
ity  as  allies  in  their  cause.  Well,  then,  what,  after  all,  is  proved 
by  these  fevers,  this  insanity,  which  atheism — that  is  to  say,  the 
genius  of  evil — so  properly  summons  in  its  defence?  I  see  a  dis 
ordered  imagination  connected  with  a  sound  understanding.  The 
lunatic  and  the  delirious  perceive  objects  which  have  no  existence; 
but  do  they  reason  falsely  respecting  those  objects?  They  only 
draw  logical  conclusions  from  unsound  premises. 

The  same  thing  happens  to  the  patient  in  a  paroxysm  of  fever. 
llis  mind  is  beclouded  in  that  part  in  which  images  are  reflected, 
because  the  senses,  from  their  imbecility,  transmit  only  fallacious 
notions;  but  the  region  of  ideas  remains  uninjured  and  unalter 
able.  As  a  flame  kindled  with  a  substance  ever  so  vile  is  never 
theless  pure  fire,  though  fed  with  impure  aliments,  so  the  mind, 
a  celestial  flame,  rises  incorruptible  and  immortal  from  the  midst 
of  corruption  and  of  death. 

17  N 


194  GENIUS    OF    CHRISTIANITY 


W  th  respect  to  the  influence  of  climate  upon  the  miid,  which 
has  been  alleged  as  a  proof  of  the  material  nature  of  the  soul,  we 
request  the  particular  attention  of  the  reader  to  our  reply;  for, 
instead  of  answering  a  mere  objection,  we  shall  deduce  from  the 
very  point  that  is  urged  against  us  a  remarkable  evidence  of  the 
immortality  of  the  soul. 

It  has  been  observed  that  nature  displays  superior  energies  in 
the  north  and  in  the  south;  that  between  the  tropics  we  meet 
with  the  largest  quadrupeds,  the  largest  reptiles,  the  largest  birds, 
the  largest  rivers,  the  highest  mountains;  that  in  the  northern 
regions  we  find  the  mighty  cetaceous  tribes,  the  enormous  fucus, 
and  the  gigantic  pine.  If  all  things  are  the  effects  of  matter, 
combinations  of  the  elements,  products  of  the  solar  rays,  the 
result  of  cold  and  heat,  moisture  and  drought,  why  is  man  alone 
excepted  from  this  general  law?  Why  is  not  his  physical  and 
moral  capacity  expanded  with  that  of  the  elephant  under  the 
line  and  of  the  whale  at  the  poles?  While  all  nature  is  changed* 
by  the  latitude  under  which  it  is  placed,  why  does  man  alone  re 
main  everywhere  the  same?  Will  you  reply  that  man,  like  the 
ox,  is  a  native  of  every  region  ?  The  ox,  we  answer,  retains  his 
instinct  in  every  climate;  and  we  find  that,  in  respect  to  man,  the 
case  is  very  different. 

Instead  of  conforming  to  the  general  law  of  nature, — instead 
of  acquiring  higher  energy  in  those  climates  where  matter  is 
supposed  to  be  most  active, — man,  on  the  contrary,  dwindles  in  the 
same  ratio  as  the  animal  creation  around  him  is  enlarged.  In 
proof  of  this,  we  may  mention  the  Indian,  the  Peruvian,  the 
Negro,  in  the  south;  the  Esquimaux  and  the  Laplander  in  the 
north.  Nay,  more :  America,  where  the  mixture  of  mud  and 
water  imparts  to  vegetation  all  the  vigor  of  a  primitive  soil — 
America  is  pernicious  to  the  race  of  man,  though  it  is  daily  be 
coming  less  so  in  proportion  as  the  activity  of  the  material  prin 
ciple  is  reduced.  Man  possesses  not  all  his  energies  except  in 
those  regions  where  the  elements,  being  more  temperate,  allow  a 
freer  scope  to  the  mind;  where  that  mind,  being  in  a  manner 
released  from  its  terrestrial  clothing,  is  not  restrained  in  any  of 
its  motions  or  in  any  of  its  faculties. 

Here,  then,  we  cannot  but  discover  something  in  direct  oppo 
sition  to  passive  nature.  Now  this  something  is  our  immortal 


CERTAIN  OBJECTIONS  ANSWERE1  195 


soul.  It  accords  not  with  the  operations  of  matter.  It  s/ckens 
and  languishes  when  in  too  close  contact  with  it.  This  languor 
of  the  soul  produces,  in  its  turn,  debility  of  body.  The  body 
which,  had  it  been  alone,  would  have  thriven  under  the  powerful 
influence  of  the  sun,  is  kept  back  by  the  dejection  of  the  mind. 
If  it  be  said  that,  on  the  contrary,  the  body,  being  incapable  of 
enduring  the  extremities  of  cold  and  heat,  causes  the  soul  to  de 
generate  together  with  itself,  this  would  be  mistaking  a  second 
time  the  effect  for  the  cause.  It  is  not  the  mud  that  acts  upon 
the  current,  but  the  current  that  disturbs  the  mud ;  and,  in  like 
manner,  all  these  pretended  effects  of  the  body  upon  the  soul  are 
the  very  reverse — the  effects  of  the  soul  upon  the  body. 

The  twofold  debility,  mental  and  physical,  of  people  at  the 
north  and  south,  the  gravity  of  temper  which  seems  to  oppress 
them,  cannot,  then,  in  our  opinion,  be  ascribed  to  too  great  relaxa 
tion  or  tension  of  the  fibre,  since  the  same  accidents  do  not  pro- 
*duce  the  same  effects  in  the  temperate  zones.  This  disposition 
of  the  natives  of  the  polar  and  tropical  regions  is  a  real  intel 
lectual  dejection,  produced  by  the  state  of  the  soul  and  by  its 
struggles  against  the  influence  of  matter.  Thus  God  has  not  only 
displayed  his  wisdom  in  the  advantages  which  the  globe  derives 
from  the  diversity  of  latitudes,  but,  by  placing  man  upon  this 
species  of  ladder,  he  has  demonstrated,  with  almost  mathematical 
precision,  the  immortality  of  our  essence;  since  the  soul  possesses 
the  greatest  energy  where  matter  operates  with  the  least  force, 
and  the  intellectual  powers  of  man  diminish  where  the  corporeal 
mass  of  the  brute  is  augmented. 

Let  us  consider  one  more  objection:  "If  the  idea  of  God  is 
naturally  impressed  upon  our  souls,  it  ought  to  precede  education 
and  reason,  and  to  manifest  itself  in  earliest  infancy.  Now 
children  have  no  idea  of  God,  consequently/'  &c. 

God  being  a  spirit,  which  cannot  be  comprehended  but  by  a 
sjririt,  a  child,  in  whom  the  intellectual  faculties  are  not  yet  de 
veloped,  is  incapable  of  forming  a  conception  of  the  Supreme 
Being.  How  unreasonable  to  require  the  heart  to  exercise  its 
noblest  function  when  it  is  not  yet  fully  formed — when  the  won 
derful  work  is  yet  in  the  hands  of  the  Maker ! 

It  may  be  asserted,  however,  that  the  child  has  at  least  the  in- 
st.inct  of  his  Creator.  Witness  his  little  reveries,  his  inquietudes, 


196  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

his  terrors  in  the  night,  and  his  propensity  to  nvise  his  ejes  to 
heaven.  Behold  that  infant  folding  his  innocent  hands  and  re 
peating  after  his  mother  a  prayer  to  the  God  of  mercy.  Why 
does  this  young  angel  of  the  earth  stammer  forth  with  such  love 
and  purity  the  name  of  that  Supreme  Being  concerning  whom 
he  knows  nothing? 

Who,  at  the  mere  sight  of  a  new-born  infant,  could  doubt  the 
presence  of  God  within  it?  Look  at  the  little  creature  which  a 
nurse  is  carrying  in  her  arms.  What  has  it  said  that  excites 
such  joy  in  that  venerable  veteran,  in  the  man  who  has  just 
reached  his  prime,  and  in  that  youthful  female?  Two  or  three 
half-articulate  syllables,  which  nobody  could  understand;  and  this 
alone  is  sufficient  to  fill  rational  beings  with  transport,  from  the 
grandfather,  who  knows  all  the  incidents  of  life,  to  the  inexperi 
enced  mother,  who  has  yet  to  learn  them.  Who,  then,  has  con 
ferred  such  power  on  the  accents  of  man?  Why  is  the  sound  of^ 
the  human  voice  so  irresistibly  moving?  What  so  deeply  affects 
you  in  this  instance  is  a  mystery  attached  to  higher  causes  than 
the  interest  which  you  may  take  in  the  age  of  this  infant.  Some 
thing  whispers  you  that  these  inarticulate  words  are  the  first 
expressions  of  an  immortal  soul. 


CHAPTER  V. 

DANGER   AND   INUTILITY    OF    ATHEISM. 

THERE  are  two  classes  of  atheists  totally  distinct  from  each 
other :  the  one  composed  of  those  who  are  consistent  in  their 
principles,  declaring  without  hesitation  that  there  is  no  God,  con 
sequently  no  essential  difference  between  good  and  evil,  and  that 
the  world  belongs  to  those  who  possess  the  greatest  strength  or 
the  most  address;  the  other  embraces  those  good  peop'e  of  the 
system — the  hypocrites  of  infidelity;  absurd  characters,  a  thou 
sand  times  more  dangerous  than  the  first,  and  who,  with  a  feigned 
benevolence,  would  indulge  in  every  excess  to  support  their  pre 
tensions  ;  they  would  call  you  brother  while  cutting  your  throat  • 


DANGER  AND   INUTILITY   OF   ATHEISM.  197 


the  words  morality  and  humanity  are  continually  on  their  lips : 
they  are  trebly  culpable,  for  to  the  vices  of  the  atheist  they  add 
the  intolerance  of  the  sectary  and  the  self-love  of  the  author. 

These  men  pretend  that  atheism  is  not  destructive  either  of 
happiness  or  virtue,  and  that  there  is  no  condition  in  which  it  is 
not  as  profitable  to  be  an  infidel  as  a  pious  Christian ;  a  position 
which  it  may  not  be  amiss  to  examine. 

If  a  thing  ought  to  be  esteemed  in  proportion  to  its  greater  or 
less  utility,  atheisnr.  must  be  very  contemptible,  for  it  is  of  use  to 
nobody. 

Let  us  survey  human  life;  let  us  begin  with  the  poor  and  the 
unfortunate,  as  they  constitute  the  majority  of  mankind.  Say, 
countless  families  of  indigence,  is  it  to  you  that  atheism  is  ser 
viceable?  I  wait  for  a  reply;  but  not  a  single  voice  is  raised  in 
its  behalf.  But  what  do  I  hear  ?  a  hymn  of  hope  mingled  with 
sighs  ascending  to  the  throne  of  the  Lord !  These  are  believers. 
Let  us  pass  on  to  the  wealthy. 

It  would  seem  that  the  man  who  is  comfortably  situated  in  this 
world  can  have  no  interest  in  being  an  atheist.  How  soothing 
to  him  must  be  the  reflection  that  his  days  will  be  prolonged  be 
yond  the  present  life  !  With  what  despair  would  he  quit  this 
world  if  he  conceived  that  he  was  parting  from  happiness  for 
ever  !  In  vain  would  fortune  heap  her  favors  upon  him ;  they 
would  only  serve  to  inspire  him  with  the  greater  horror  of  anni 
hilation.  The  rich  man  may  likewise  rest  assured  that  religion 
will  enhance  his  pleasures,  by  mingling  with  them  an  ineffable 
satisfaction ;  his  heart  will  not  be  hardened,  nor  will  he  be  cloyed 
with  enjoyment,  which  is  the  natural  result  of  a  long  series  of 
prosperity.  Religion  prevents  aridity  of  heart,  as  is  intimated 
in  her  ceremonial.  The  holy  oil  which  she  uses  in  the  consecra 
tion  of  authority,  of  youth  and  of  death,  teaches  us  that  they  are 
not  destined  to  a  moral  or  eternal  sterility. 

Will  the  soldier  who  marches  forth  to  battle — that  child  of 
glory — ke  an  atheist?  Will  he  who  seeks  an  endless  life  consent 
to  perish  forever?  Appear  upon  your  thundering  clouds,  ye 
countless  Christian  warriors,  now  hosts  of  heaven !  appear !  From 
your  exalted  abode,  from  the  holy  city,  proclaim  to  the  heroes  of 
our  day  that  the  brave  man  is  not  wholly  consigned  to  the  tomb, 
and  that  something  more  of  him  survives  than  an  empty  name. 


198  GENIUS  OP  CHRISTIANITY. 

All  the  great  generals  of  antiquity  were  remarkable  for  theii 
piety.  Epaminondas,  the  deliverer  of  his  country,  had  the  cha 
racter  of  the  most  religious  of  men ;  Xenophon,  that  philosophic 
warrior,  was  a  pattern  of  piety;  Alexander,  the  everlasting  model 
of  conquerors,  gave  himself  out  to  be  the  son  of  Jupiter.  Among 
the  Romans,  the  ancient  consuls  of  the  republic,  a  Cincinnatus, 
a  Fabius,  a  Papirius  Cursor,  a  Paulus  JEniilius,  a  Scipio,  placed 
all  their  reliance  on  the  deity  of  the  Capitol ;  Pompey  marched 
to  battle  imploring  the  divine  assistance ;  Caesar  pretended  to 
be  of  celestial  descent;  Cato,  his  rival,  was  convinced  of  the  im 
mortality  of  the  soul;  Brutus,  his  assassin,  believed  in  the  exist 
ence  of  supernatural  powers;  and  Augustus,  his  successor,  reigned 
only  in  the  name  of  the  gods. 

In  modern  times  was  that  valiant  Sicambrian,  the  conqueror 
of  Rome  and  of  the  Gauls,  an  unbeliever,  who,  falling  at  the  feet 
of  a  priest,  laid  the  foundation  of  the  empire  of  France  ?  Was 
St.  Louis,  the  arbiter  of  kings, — revered  by  infidels  themselves,— 
an  unbeliever  ?  Was  the  valorous  Du  Guesclin,  whose  coffin  was 
sufficient  for  the  capture  of  cities, — the  Chevalier  Bayard,  without 
fear  and  without  reproach, — the  old  Constable  de  Montmorenci, 
who  recited  his  beads  in  the  camp, — were  these  men  without  re 
ligion  ?  But,  more  wonderful  still,  was  the  great  Turenne,  whom 
Bossuet  brought  back  to  the  bosom  of  the  Church,  an  unbeliever? 
No  character  is  more  admirable  than  that  of  the  Christian  hero 
The  people  whom  he  defends  look  up  to  him  as  a  father;  he  pro 
tects  the  husbandman  and  the  produce  of  his  fields;  he  is  an 
angel  of  war  sent  by  God  to  mitigate  the  horrors  of  that  scourge. 
Cities  open  their  gates  at  the  mere  report  of  his  justice ;"  ram 
parts  fall  before  his  virtue ;  he  is  beloved  by  the  soldier,  he  is 
idolized  by  nations;  with  the  courage  of  the  warrior  he  combines 
the  charity  of  the  gospel;  his  conversation  is  impressive  and  in 
structing;  his  words  are  full  of  simplicity;  you  are  astonished  to 
find  such  gentleness  in  a  man  accustomed  to  live  in  the  midst  of 
dangers.  Thus  the  honey  is  hidden  under  the  rugged  bark  of  an 
oak  which  has  braved  the  tempests  of  ages.  We  may  safely  con 
clude  that  in  no  respect  whatever  is  atheism  profitable  for  the 
soldier. 

Neither  can  we  perceive  that  it  would  be  more  useful  in  the 
different  states  of  nature  than  in  the  conditions  of  society.     If 


DANGER  AND   INUTILITY   OF   ATHEISM.  199 

the  moral  system  is  wholly  founded  on  the  doctrine  of  the  exist 
ence  of  God  and  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  a  father,  a  son,  the 
husband,  the  wife,  can  have  no  interest  in  heing  unbelievers. 
Ah !  how  is  it  possible,  for  instance,  to  conceive  that  a  woman 
can  be  an  atheist  ?  What  will  support  this  frail  reed  if  religion 
do  not  sustain  her  ?  The  feeblest  being  in  nature,  ever  on  the 
eve  of  death  or  exposed  to  the  loss  of  her  charms,  who  will  save 
her  if  her  hopes  be  not  extended  beyond  an  ephemeral  existence? 
For  the  sake  of  her  beauty  alone,  woman  ought  to  be  pious. 
Gentleness,  submission,  suavity,  tenderness,  constitute  part  of 
the  charms  which  the  Creator  bestowed  on  our  first  mother,  and 
to  charms  of  this  kind  philosophy  is  a  mortal  foe. 

Shall  woman,  who  is  naturally  prone  to  mystery,  who  takes 
delight  in  concealment,  who  never  discloses  more  than  half  of 
her  graces  and  of  her  thoughts,  whose  mind  can  be  conjectured 
but  not  known,  who  as  a  mother  and  a  maiden  is  full  of  secrets, 
who  seduces  chiefly  by  her  ignorance,  whom  Heaven  formed  for 
virtue  and  the  most  mysterious  of  sentiments,  modesty  and  love, — 
shall  woman,  renouncing  the  engaging  instinct  of  her  sex,  pre 
sume,  with  rash  and  feeble  hand,  to  withdraw  the  thick  vei 
which  conceals  the  Divinity  ?  Whom  doth  she  think  to  please 
by  this  effort,  alike  absurd  and  sacrilegious  ?  Does  she  hope,  by 
mingling  her  foolish  impiety  and  frivolous  metaphysics  with  the 
imprecations  of  a  Spinosa  and  the  sophistry  of  a  Bayle,  to  give 
us  a  high  opinion  of  her  genius  ?  Assuredly  she  has  no  thoughts 
of  marriage ;  for  what  sensible  man  would  unite  himself  for  life  to 
an  impious  partner? 

The  infidel  wife  seldom  has  any  idea  of  her  duties :  she  spends 
her  days  either  in  reasoning  on  virtue  without  practising  its  pre 
cepts,  or  in  the  enjoyment  of  the  tumultuous  pleasures  of  the 
world.  Her  mind  vacant  and  her  heart  unsatisfied,  life  becomes 
a  burden  to  her;  neither  the  thought  of  G-od,  nor  any  domestic 
cares,  afford  her  happiness. 

But  the  day  of  vengeance  approaches.  Time  arrives,  leading 
Age  by  the  hand.  The  spectre  with  silver  hair  and  icy  hands 
plants  himself  on  the  threshold  of  the  female  atheist;  she  per 
ceives  him  and  shrieks  aloud.  Who  now  will  hear  her  voice? 
Her  husband?  She  has  none;  long,  very  long,  has  he  withdrawn 
from  the  theatre  of  his  dishonor.  Her  children?  Ruined  by 


200  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 


an  impious  education  and  by  maternal  example,  they  concern 
themselves  not  about  their  mother.  If  she  surveys  the  past,  she 
beholds  a  pathless  waste;  her  virtues  have  left  no  traces  behind 
them.  For  the  first  time  her  saddened  thoughts  turn  toward 
heaven,  and  she  begins  to  think  how  much  more  consolatory  it 
would  have  been  to  have  a  religion.  Unavailing  regret!  The 
crowning  punishment  of  atheism  in  this  world  is  to  desire  faith 
without  being  able  to  acquire  it.  When,  at  the  term  of  her 
career,  she  discovers  the  delusions  of  a  false  philosophy, — when 
annihilation,  like  an  appalling  meteor,  begins  to  appear  above  the 
horizon  of  death, — she  would  fain  return  to  God;  but  it  is  too  late  : 
the  mind,  hardened  by  incredulity,  rejects  all  conviction.  Oh ! 
what  a  frightful  solitude  appears  before  her,  when  God  and  man 

letire  at  once  from  her  view !  She  dies,  this  unfortunate  woman, 

expiring  in  the  arms  of  a  hireling  nurse,  or  of  some  man,  perhaps, 
who  turns  with  disgust  from  her  protracted  sufferings.  A  com- 
mon  coffin  now  encloses  all  that  remains  of  her.  At  her  funeral 
we  see  no  daughter  overpowered  with  grief,  no  sons-in-law  or 
grandchildren  in  tears,  forming,  with  the  blessing  of  the  people 
and  the  hymns  of  religion,  so  worthy  an  escort  for  the  mother  of 
a  family.  Perhaps  only  a  son,  who  is  unknown,  and  who  knows 
not  himself  the  dishonorable  secret  of  his  birth,  will  happen  to 
meet  the  mournful  convoy,  and  will  inquire  the  name  of  the  de 
ceased,  whose  body  is  about  to  be  cast  to  the  worms,  to  which  it 
had  been  promised  by  the  atheist  herself! 

How  different  is  the  lot  of  the  religious  woman !  Her  days 
are  replete  with  joy;  she  is  respected,  beloved  by  her  husband, 
her  children,  her  household;  all  place  unbounded  confidence  in 
her,  because  they  are  firmly  convinced  of  the  fidelity  of  one  who 
is  faithful  to  her  God.  The  faith  of  this  Christian  is  strength 
ened  by  her  happiness,  and  her  happiness  by  her  faith;  she  be 
lieves  in  God  because  she  is  happy,  and  she  is  happy  because  she 
believes  in  God. 

It  is  enough  for  a  mother  to  look  upon  her  smiling  infant  to 
be  convinced  of  the  reality  of  supreme  felicity.  The  bounty  of 
Providence  is  most  signally  displayed  in  the  cradle  of  man.  What 
affecting  harmonies!  Could  they  be  only  the  effects  of  inani 
mate  matter?  The  child  is  born,  the  breast  fills;  the  little  guest 
has  no  teeth  that  can  wound  the  maternal  bosom :  he  grows,  the 


DANGER  AND  INUTILITY  OF  ATHEISM.  201 

milk  becomes  more  nourishing ;  he  is  weaned,  and  the  wonderful 
fountain  ceases  to  flow.  This  woman,  before  so  weak,  has  all  at 
once  acquired  such  strength  as  enables  her  to  bear  fatigues  which 
a  robust  man  could  not  possibly  endure.  What  is  it  that  awakens 
her  at  midnight,  at  the  very  moment  when  her  infant  is  ready  to 
demand  the  accustomed  repast?  Whence  comes  that  address 
which  she  never  before  possessed?  How  she  handles  the  tender 
flower  without  hurting  it !  Her  attentions  seem  to  be  the  fruit 
of  the  experience  of  her  whole  life,  and  yet  this  is  her  first-born ! 
The  slightest  noise  terrified  the  virgin :  where  are  the  embattled 
armies,  the  thunders,  the  perils,  capable  of  appalling  the  mother? 
Formerly  this  woman  required  delicate  food,  elegant  apparel,  and 
a  soft  couch ;  the  least  breath  of  air  incommoded  her :  now,  a 
crust  of  bread,  a  common  dress,  a  handful  of  straw,  are  sufficient; 
nor  wind,  nor  rain,  scarcely  makes  any  impression,  while  she  has 
in  her  breast  a  drop  of  milk  to  nourish  her  son  and  in  her  tat 
tered  garments  a  corner  to  cover  him. 

Such  being  the  state  of  things,  he  must  be  extremely  obstinate 
who  would  not  espouse  the  cause  in  behalf  of  which  not  only 
reason  finds  the  most  numerous  evidences,  but  to  which  morals, 
happiness,  and  hope,  nay,  even  instinct  itself,  and  all  the  desires 
of  the  soul,  naturally  impel  us;  for  if  it  were  as  true  as  it  is  false, 
that  the  understanding  keeps  the  balance  even  between  God  and 
atheism,  still  it  is  certain  that  it  would  preponderate  much  in 
favor  of  the  former;  for,  besides  half  of  his  reason,  man  puts  the 
whole  weight  of  his  heart  into  the  scale  of  the  Deity. 

Of  this  truth  you  will  be  thoroughly  convinced  if  you  examine 
the  very  different  manner  in  which  atheism  and  religion  proceed 
in  their  reasoning. 

Religion  adduces  none  but  general  proofs;  she  founds  her  judg 
ment  only  on  the  harmony  of  the  heavens  and  the  immutable  laws 
of  the  universe;  she  views  only  the  graces  of  nature,  the  charm 
ing  instincts  of  animals,  and  their  exquisite  conformities  with 


man. 


Atheism  sets  before  you  nothing  but  hideous  exceptions;  it 
seek  naught  but  calamities,  unhealthy  marshes,  destructive  v  :j- 
canoes,  noxious  animals;  and,  as  if  it  were  anxious  to  conceal  it 
self  in  the  mire,  it  interrogates  the  reptiles  and  insects  that  they 
may  furnish  it  with  proofs  against  God. 


202  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

Religion  speaks  only  of  the  grandeur  and  beauty  of  man. 
Atheism  is  continually  setting  the  leprosy  and  plague  before  our 
eyes. 

Religion  derives  her  reasons  from  the  sensibility  of  the  soul, 
from  the  tenderest  attachments  of  life,  from  filial  piety,  conjugal 
love,  and  maternal  affection. 

Atheism  reduces  every  thing  to  the  instinct  of  the  brute,  and, 
as  the  first  argument  of  its  system,  displays  to  you  a  heart  that 
naught  is  capable  of  moving. 

Religion  assures  us  that  our  afflictions  dhall  have  an  end;  she 
comforts  us,  she  dries  our  tears,  she  promises  us  another  life. 

On  the  contrary,  in  the  abominable  worship  of  atheism,  human 
woes  are  the  incense,  death  is  the  priest,  a  coffin  the  altar,  and 
annihilation  the  Deity. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

CONCLUSION    OF    THE    DOCTRINES    OF   CHRISTIANITY STATE  OF 

PUNISHMENTS    AND    REWARDS    IN    A    FUTURE  LIFE ELYSIUM 

OF   THE    ANCIENTS. 

THE  existence  of  a  Supreme  Being  once  acknowledged,  and 
the  immortality  of  the  soul  granted,  there  can  be  no  farther  dif 
ficulty  to  admit  a  state  of  rewards  and  punishments  after  this 
life;  this  last  tenet  is  a  necessary  consequence  of  the  other  two. 
All  that  remains  for  us,  therefore,  is  to  show  how  full  of  morality 
and  poetry  this  doctrine  is,  and  how  far  superior  the  religion  of 
the  gospel  is  in  this  respect  to  all  other  religions. 

In  the  Elysium  of  the  ancients  we  find  none  but  heroes  and 
persons  who  had  either  been  fortunate  or  distinguished  on  earth. 
Children,  and,  apparently,  slaves  and  the  lower  class  of  men, — that 
is  to  say,  misfortune  and  innocence, — were  banished  to  the  infernal 
regions.  And  what  rewards  for  virtue  were  those  feasts  and 
dances,  the  everlasting  duration  of  which  would  be  sufficient  to 
constitute  one  of  the  torments  of  Tartarus ! 

Mahomet  promises  other  enjoyments.     His  paradise  is  a  land 


DOCTRINE   OF   A   FUTURE   STATE.  203 

of  musk  and  of  the  purest  wheaten  flour,  watered  by  the  river 
of  life  and  the  Acawtar,  another  stream  which  rises  under  the 
roots  of  Tuba,  or  the  tree  of  happiness.  Streams  springing  up  in 
grottos  of  ambergris,  and  bordered  with  aloes,  murmur  beneath 
golden  palm-trees.  On  the  shores  of  a  quadrangular  lake  stand 
a  thousand  goblets  made  of  stars,  out  of  which  the  souls  predes 
tined  to  felicity  imbibe  the  crystal  wave.  All  the  elect,  seated  on 
silken  carpets,  at  the  entrance  of  their  tents,  eat  of  the  terrestrial 
globe,  reduced  by  Allah  into  a  wonderful  cake.  A  number  of 
eunuchs  and  seventy-two  black-eyed  damsels  place  before  them, 
in  three  hundred  dishes  of  gold,  the  fish  Nun  and  the  ribs  of  the 
buffalo  Balam.  The  angel  Israfil  sings,  without  ceasing,  the  most 
enchanting  songs;  the  immortal  virgins  with  their  voices  accom 
pany  his  strains;  and  the  souls  of  virtuous  poets,  lodged  in  the 
throats  of  certain  birds  that  are  hovering  round  the  tree  of  hap 
piness,  join  the  celestial  choir.  Meanwhile  the  crystal  bells  sus 
pended  in  the  golden  palm-trees  are  melodiously  agitated  by  a 
breeze  which  issues  from  the  throne  of  God.1 

The  joys  of  the  Scandinavian  heaven  were  sanguinary,  but  there 
was  a  degree  of  grandeur  in  the  pleasures  ascribed  to  the  martial 
shades,  and  in  the  power  of  gathering  the  storm  and  guiding  the 
whirlwind  which  they  were  said  to  possess.  This  paradise  was  the 
image  of  the  kind  of  life  led  by  the  barbarian  of  the  north. 
Wandering  along  the  wild  shores  of  his  country,  the  dreary  sounds 
emitted  by  ocean  plunged  his  soul  into  deep  reveries;  thought 
succeeded  thought,  as  in  the  billows  murmur  followed  murmur, 
till,  bewildered  in  the  mazes  of  his  desires,  he  mingled  with  the 
elements,  rode  upon  the  fleeting  clouds,  rocked  the  leafless  forest, 
and  flew  across  the  seas  upon  the  wings  of  the  tempest. 

The  hell  of  the  unbelieving  nations  is  as  capricious  as  their 
heaven.  Our  observations  on  the  Tartarus  of  the  ancients  we 
shall  reserve  for  the  literary  portion  of  our  work,  on  which  we 
are  about  to  enter.  Be  this  as  it  may,  the  rewards  which  Chris 
tianity  promises  to  virtue,  and  the  punishments  with  which  it 
threatens  guilt,  produce  at  the  first  glance  a  conviction  of  their 
truth.  The  heaven  and  hell  of  Christians  are  not  devised  after 
the  manners  of  any  particular  people,  but  founded  on  the  general 


The  Koran  and  the  Arabic  poets. 


204  GENIUS    OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


ideas  that  are  adapted  to  all  nations  and  to  all  classes  of  society 
What  can  be  more  simple,  and  yet  more  sublime,  than  the  truths 
conveyed  in  these  few  words ! — the  felicity  of  the  righteous  in  a 
future  life  will  consist  in  the  full  possession  of  God;  the  misery 
of  the  wicked  will  arise  from  a  knowledge  of  the  perfections 
of  the  Deity,  and  from  being  forever  deprived  of  their  enjoy 
ment. 

It  may  perhaps  be  said  that  here  Christianity  merely  repeats 
the  lessons  of  the  schools  of  Plato  and  Pythagoras.  In  this  case, 
it  must  at  least  be  admitted  that  the  Christian  religion  is  not  the 
religion  of  shallow  minds,  since  it  inculcates  what  are  acknow 
ledged  to  have  been  the  doctrines  of  sages. 

The  Gentiles,  in  fact,  reproached  the  primitive  Christians  with 
being  nothing  more  than  a  sect  of  philosophers ;  but  were  it  cer 
tain  (what  is  not  proved)  that  the  sages  of  antiquity  entertained 
the  same  notions  that  Christianity  holds  respecting  a  future  state, 
still,  a  truth  confined  within  a  narrow  circle  of  chosen  disciples  is 
one  thing,  and  a  truth  which  has  become  the  universal  consolation 
of  mankind  is  another.  What  the  brightest  geniuses  of  Greece 
discovered  by  a  last  effort  of  reason  is  now  publicly  taught  in 
every  church;  and  the  laborer,  for  a  few  pence,  may  purchase, 
in  the  catechism  of  his  children,  the  most  sublime  secrets  of  the 
ancient  sects. 

WTe  shall  say  nothing  here  on  the  subject  of  Purgatory,  as  we 
shall  examine  it  hereafter  under  its  moral  and  poetical  aspects. 
4s  to  the  principle  which  has  produced  this  place  of  expiation,  it 
is  founded  in  reason  itself,  since  between  vice  and  virtue  there  ia 
a  state  of  tepidity  which  merits  neither  the  punishment  of  hell 
nor  t)  e  rewards  of  heaven 


THE   LAST   JUDGMENT.  205 


CHAPTER  VII. 

• 

THE   LAST   JUDGMENT. 

THE  Fathers  entertained  different  opinions  respecting  the  state 
of  the  soul  of  the  righteous  immediately  after  its  separation  from 
the  body.  St.  Augustin  thinks  that  it  is  placed  in  an  abode  of 
peace  till  it  be  reunited  to  its  incorruptible  body.1  St.  Bernard 
believes  that  it  is  received  into  heaven,  where  it  contemplates 
the  humanity  of  Jesus  Christ,  but  not  his  divinity,  which  it  will 
enjoy  only  after  the  resurrection  ;2  in  some  other  parts  of  his  ser 
mons  he  assures  us  that  it  enters  immediately  into  the  pleni 
tude  of  celestial  felicity;3  and  this  opinion  the  Church  seems  to 
have  adopted.4 

But,  as  it  is  just  that  the  body  and  soul,  which  have  together 
committed  sin  or  practised  virtue,  should  suffer  or  be  rewarded 
together,  so  religion  teaches  us  that  he  who  formed  us  out  of 
dust  will  summon  us  a  second  time  before  his  tribunal.  The 
stoic  school  believed,  as  Christians  do,  in  hell,  paradise,  purga 
tory,  and  the  resurrection  of  the  body;5  and  the  Magi  had  also  a 

1  De  Trinit.,  lib.  xv.  c.  25. 

2  Serm.  in  Sanet.  omn.,  1,  2,  3 ;   De  Consider  at.,  lib.  v.  c.  4. 

3  Serm.  2,  de  S.  Malac.  n.  5;   Serm.  de  S.  Viet.,  n.  4. 

4  It  is  an  article  of  Catholic  faith,  that  the  souls  of  the  just,  who  have  nothing 
to  atone  for  after  their  departure  from  this  life,  are  admitted  immediately  to  the 
beatific  vision.     Though  some  of  the  early  fathers  supposed  that  this  happiness 
would  be  deferred  until  after  the  resurrection,  they  were  not  on  that  account 
taxable  with  heresy,  because  the  tradition  of  the  Church  was  not  yet  plainly 
manifested.     This  tradition  is  gathered,  not  from  the  opinions  of  a  few  fathers 
or  doctors,  but  from  the  sentiment  generally  held.     The  declarations  of  the 
second  Counul  of  Lyons  in  1274,  that  of  Florence  in  1439,  and  the  Tridentine 
Synod  in  the  sixteenth  century,  have  explicitly  determined  the  question.     St. 
Augustine,  after  his  elevation  to  the  episcopacy,  coincided  with  the  prevailing 
sentiment  on  this  point.    Tract.  26  and  49  in  loan,  lib.  9;   Confess,  c.  3.    The 
passages  from  St.  Bernard  which  seem  to  conflict  with  that  sentiment  are  all 
susceptible  of  an  orthodox  interpretation.     T. 

5  Senec.,  Epist   90 :   Id.,  ad.  Marc. ;  Laert.,  lib.  vii. ;  Plut.,  in  Resig.  Stoic, 
«:  in  fxc.  Inn. 

18 


206  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


confused  idea  of  this  last  doctrine.1  The  Egyptians  hoped  to 
reviv3  after  they  had  passed  a  thousand  years  in  the  tomb;3  and 
the  Sybilline  verses  mention  the  resurrection  and  the  last  judg 
ment.3 

Pliny,  in  his  strictures  on  Democritus,  informs  us  what  was 
the  opinion  of  that  philosopher  on  the  subject  of  the  resurrection  : 
Similis  et  de  asservandis  corporibus  hominum,  ac  reviviscendi 
promi&sa  d  Dcmocrito  vanitas,  qui  non  vixit  ipse.* 

The  resurrection  is  clearly  expressed  in  these  verses  of  Phocy- 
lides  on  the  ashes  of  the  dead  :  — 

Ov  KaXov  appoviiiv  avaXv^iitv  avSpwtroio. 
Kai  ra\a  6'iic  yafrjf  L\Tti(,0(i£v  If  $aoj  c\6civ 
omot\ont.vu>i>'  oiriao)  fe  Sc 


"  It  is  impious  to  disperse  the  remains  of  man  ;  for  the  ashes 
and  the  bones  of  the  dead  shall  return  to  life,  and  shall  become 
like  unto  gods." 

Virgil  obscurely  hints  at  the  doctrine  of  the  resurrection  in  the 
sixth  book  of  the  ^Eneid. 

But  how  is  it  possible  for  atoms  dispersed  among  all  the  ele 
ments  to  be  again  united  and  to  form  the  same  bodies  ?  It  is  a 
long  time  since  this  objection  was  first  urged,  and  it  has  been 
answered  by  most  of  the  Fathers.5  "Tell  me  what  thou  art," 
said  Tertullian,  "and  I  will  tell  thee  what  thou  shalt  be."6 

Nothing  can  be  more  striking  and  awful  than  the  moment  of 
the  final  consummation  of  ages  foretold  by  Christianity.  In  those 
days  baleful  signs  will  appear  in  the  heavens;  the  depths  of  the 
abyss  will  open  ;  the  seven  angels  will  pour  out  their  vials  filled 
with  wrath;  nations  will  destroy  each  other;  mothers  will  hear 
the  wailings  of  their  children  yet  in  the  womb;  and  Death,  on 
his  pale  horse,  will  speed  his  course  through  the  kingdoms  of  the 
earth.  7 


1  Hyde,  Belig.  Pers. ;  Plut.,  de  Is.  et  Osir. 

2  Diod.  et  Herodot. 

3  Bocchus,  in  Solin.,  c.  8 ;  Lack,  lib.  viii.,  c.  29  j  lib.  iv.  c.  15,  18,  19. 

4  Lib.  vii.  c.  55. 

5  St.  Cyril,  bishop  of  Jerusalem,  Catech.,  xviii.     St.  Greg.  Nat.  Oret.  pro  #«•. 
Cam.;  St.  August.,  de  Civ.  Dei,  lib.  xx.j  St.  Chrys.,  Homil  in  Resur.  Cam.: 
St.  Gregor.  pope,  Dial,  iv.  j  St.  Ainb.,  Serm.  in  Fid.  res. ;  St.  Epiph.  Ancyrot. 

0  Tn  Apologet.  ?  Apocalypse. 


HAPPINESS   OF   THE   RIGHTEOUS.  207 


Meanwhile  the  globe  begins  to  tremble  on  its  axis;  the  moon 
is  covered  with  a  bloody  veil;  the  threatening  stars  hang  half 
detached  from  the  vault  of  heaven,  and  the  agony  of  the  world 
commences.  Then,  all  at  once,  the  fatal  hour  strikes;  God  sus 
pends  the  movements  of  the  creation,  and  the  earth  hath  passed 
away  like  an  exhausted  river. 

Now  resounds  the  trump  of  the  angel  of  judgment;  and  the 
cry  is  heard,  "Arise,  ye  dead!"  The  sepulchres  burst  open  with 
a  terrific  noise,  the  human  race  issues  all  at  once  from  the  tomb, 
and  the  assembled  multitudes  fill  the  valley  of  Jehoshaphat. 

Behold,  the  Son  of  Man  appears  in  the  clouds  :  the  powers 
of  hell  ascend  from  the  depths  of  the  abyss  to  witness  the  last 
judgment  pronounced  upon  ages ;  the  goats  are  separated  from 
the  sheep,  the  wicked  are  plunged  into  the  gulf,  the  just  ascend 
triumphantly  to  heaven,  God  returns  to  his  repose,  and  the 
reign  of  eternity  commences. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

HAPPINESS    OP    THE   RIGHTEOUS. 

IT  has  been  asked,  what  is  that  plenitude  of  celestial  happi 
ness  promised  to  virtue  by  Christianity?  we  have  heard  com 
plaints  of  its  too  great  mysteriousness.  In  the  mythological 
systems,  it  is  said,  "  people  could  at  least  form  an  idea  of  the 
pleasures  of  the  happy  shades ;  but  who  can  have  any  conception 
of  the  felicity  of  the  elect  ?" 

Fenelon,  however,  had  a  glimpse  of  that  felicity  in  his  relation 
of  the  descent  of  Telemachus  to  the  abode  of  the  manes :  his 
Elysium  is  evidently  a  Christian  paradise.  Compare  his  descrip 
tion  with  the  Elysium  of  the  ^Eneid,  and  you  will  perceive  what 
progress  has  been  made  by  the  mind  and  heart  of  man  under  the 
influence  of  Christianity. 

"  A  soft  and  pure  light  is  diffused  around  the  bodies  of  those 
righteous  men,  and  environs  them  with  its  rays  like  a  garment. 
This  light  is  not  like  the  sombre  beams  which  illumine  the  eyes 


208  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

of  wretched  mortals;  it  is  rather  a  celestial  radiance  than  a 
light ;  it  pervades  the  thickest  bodies  more  completely  than  the 
sun's  rays  penetrate  the  purest  crystal ;  it  doth  not  dazzle,  but, 
on  the  contrary,  strengthens  the  eyes,  and  conveys  inexpressible 
serenity  to  the  soul ;  by  this  alone  the  blest  are  nourished ;  it 
issues  from  them  and  it  enters  them  again;  it  penetrates  and  is 
incorporated  with  them  as  aliments  are  incorporated  with  the 
body.  They  see,  they  feel,  they  breathe  it;  it  causes  an  inex 
haustible  source  of  peace  and  joy  to  spring  up  within  them;  they 
are  plunged  into  this  abyss  of  delight,  as  the  fishes  are  merged  in 
the  sea;  they  know  no  wants;  they  possess  all  without  having 
any  thing;  for  this  feast  of  pure  light  appeases  the  hunger  of 
their  hearts. 

"An  eternal  youth,  a  felicity  without  end,  a  radiance  wholly 
divine,  glows  upon  their  faces.  But  their  joy  has  nothing  light  or 
licentious;  it  is  a  joy  soothing,  noble,  and  replete  with  majesty; 
a  sublime  love  of  truth  and  virtue,  which  transports  them ;  they 
feel  every  moment,  without  interruption,  the  same  raptures  as  a 
mother  who  once  more  beholds  her  beloved  son  whom  she  believed 
to  be  dead ;  and  that  joy,  which  is  soon  over  for  the  mother, 
never  leaves  the  hearts  of  these  glorified  beings."1 

The  most  glowing  passages  of  the  Phaedon  of  Plato  are  less 
divine  than  this  picture ;  and  yet  Fe"nelon,  confined  within  the 
limits  of  his  story,  could  not  attribute  to  the  shades  all  the 
felicity  which  he  would  have  ascribed  to  the  elect  in  heaven. 

The  purest  of  -our  sentiments  in  this  world  is  admiration ;  but 
this  terrestrial  admiration  is  always  mingled  with  weakness, 
either  in  the  person  admiring  or  in  the  object  admired.  Imagine, 
then,  a  perfect  being,  the  source  of  all  beings,  in  whom  is  clearly 
and  sacredly  manifested  all  that  was,  and  is,  and  is  to  come; 
suppose,  at  the  same  time,  a  soul  exempt  from  envy  and  wants, 
incorruptible,  unalterable,  indefatigable,  capable  of  attention 
without  end ;  figure  to  yourself  this  soul  contemplating  the  Om 
nipotent,  incessantly  discovering  in  him  new  attributes  and  new 
perfections,  proceeding  from  admiration  to  admiration,  and  con 
scious  of  its  existence  only  by  the  ceaseless  feeling  of  this  very 
admiration;  consider,  moreover,  the  Deity  as  supreme  beauty, 

1  Telem.,  book  xiv. 


HAPPINESS   OF   THE   RIGHTEOUS.  209 


as  the  universal  principle  of  love ;  represent  to  yourself  all  the 
friendships  of  the  earth  meeting  together,  and  lost  in  this  abyss 
of  sentiments  like  drops  of  water  in  the  vast  ocean,  so  that  the 
happy  spirit  is  wholly  absorbed  by  the  love  of  God,  without, 
however,  ceasing  to  love  the  friends  whom  it  esteemed  here 
below;  lastly,  persuade  yourself  that  the  blest  are  thoroughly  con 
vinced  of  the  endless  duration  of  their  happiness  r1  you  will  then 
have  an  idea — though  very  imperfect,  it  is  true — of  the  felicity 
of  the  righteous ;  you  will  then  comprehend  that  the  choir  of  the 
redeemed  can  do  nothing  but  repeat  the  song  of  Holy!  holy! 
holy!  which  is  incessantly  dying  away,  and  incessantly  reviving, 
in  the  everlasting  ecstasies  of  heaven. 

1  St.  Augustin. 


fart  %  SttmU. 

THE    POETIC    OF    CHRISTIANITY. 


BOOK    I. 

GENERAL   SURVEY  OF   CHRISTIAN  EPIC   POEM? 
CHAPTER   I. 

THE      POETIC      OF      CHRISTIANITY     IS      DIVIDED      INTO 

BRANCHES  :  POETRY,  THE  FINE  ARTS,  AND  LITERATURE 
THE  SIX  BOOKS  OF  THIS  SECOND  PART  TREAT  IN  AN  ES 
PECIAL  MANNER  OF  POETRY. 

THE  felicity  of  the  blessed  sung  by  the  Christian  Home* 
naturally  leads  us  to  consider  the  effects  of  Christianity  in  poetry 
In  treating  of  the  spirit  of  that  religion,  how  could  we  forget  its 
influence  on  literature  and  the  arts — an  influence  which  has  in  a 
manner  changed  the  human  mind,  and  produced  in  modern 
Europe  nations  totally  different  from  those  of  ancient  times  ? 

The  reader,  perhaps,  will  not  be  displeased  if  we  conduct  him 
to  Horeb  and  Sinai,  to  the  summits  of  Ida  and  of  the  Taygetus, 
among  the  sons  of  Jacob  and  of  Priam,  into  the  company  of  the 
gods  and  of  the  shepherds.  A  poetic  voice  issues  from  the  ruing 
which  cover  Greece  and  Idumaea,  and  cries  from  afar  to  the  tra 
veller,  "  There  are  but  two  brilliant  names  and  recollections  in 
history — those  of  the  Israelites  and  of  the  ancient  Greeks." 

The  twelve1  books  which  we  have  devoted  to  these  literary  in 
vestigations  compose,  as  we  have  observed,  the  second  and  third 
parts  of  our  work,  and  separate  the  six  books  on  the  doctrines 
from  the  six  books  on  the  ceremonies  of  the  Christian  religion. 

1  Now  ten  only;    Atala  and  Rene,  two  episodes  of  the  original  work,  having 
been  retrenched  by  tho  author.     T. 
210 


THE   POETIC   OF   CHRISTIANITY.  211 


We  shall,  in  the  first  place,  take  a  view  of  the  poems  in  which 
that  religion  supplies  the  place  of  mythology,  because  the  epic 
is  the  highest  class  of  poetic  compositions.  Aristotle,  it  is  true, 
asserts  that  the  epic  poem  is  wholly  comprised  in  tragedy;  but 
might  we  not  think,  on  the  contrary,  that  the  drama  is  wholly 
comprised  in  the  epic  poem  ?  The  parting  of  Hector  and 
Andromache,  Priam  in  the  tent  of  Achilles,  Dido  at  Carthage, 
JEneas  at  the  habitation  of  Evander  or  sending  back  the  body 
of  the  youthful  Pallas,  Tancred  and  Ernrinia,  Adam  and  Evr, 
are  real  tragedies,  in  which  nothing  is  wanting  but  the  division 
into  scenes  and  the  names  of  the  speakers.  Was  it  not,  more 
over,  the  Iliad  that  gave  birth  to  tragedy,  as  the  Margites  was 
the  parent  of  comedy?1  But  if  Calliope  decks  herself  with  all 
the  ornaments  of  Melpomene,  the  former  has  charms  which  the 
latter  cannot  borrow;  for  the  marvellous,  the  descriptive,  and  the 
digressive,  are  not  within  the  scope  of  the  drama.  Every  kind 
of  tone,  the  comic  not  excepted,  every  species  of  poetic  harmony, 
from  the  lyre  to  the  trumpet,  may  be  introduced  in  the  epic. 
The  epic  poem,  therefore,  has  parts  which  the  drama  has  not :  it 
consequently  requires  a  more  universal  genius ;  it  is  of  course  a 
more  complete  performance  than  a  tragedy.  It  seems,  in  fact, 
highly  probable  that  there  should  be  less  difficulty  in  composing 
the  five  acts  of  an  (Edipus  than  in  creating  the  twenty-four 
books  of  an  Iliad.  The  result  of  a  few  months'  labor  is  not  the 
monument  that  requires  the  application  of  a  lifetime.  Sophocles 
and  Euripides  were,  doubtless,  great  geniuses }  but  have  they 
obtained  from  succeeding  ages  that  admiration  and  high  renown 
which  have  been  so  justly  awarded  to  Homer  and  Virgil  ?  Finally, 
if  the  drama  holds  the  first  rank  in  composition,  and  the  epic 
only  the  second,  how  has  it  happened  that,  from  the  Greeks  to 
the  present  day,  we  can  reckon  but  five  epic  poems,  two  ancient 
and  three  modern  :  whereas  there  is  not  a  nation  but  can  boast 
of  possessing  a  multitude  of  excellent  tragedies. 

i  The  Margites  was  a  comic  or  satirical  poem  attributed  to  Homer.  It  is 
mentioned  by  Aristotle  in  his  Treatise  on  Poetry,  but  no  part  of  it  is  known  to 
have  escaped  the  ravages  of  time. 


212  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  IL 

GENERAL  SURVEY  OF  THE   POEMS   IN  WHICH   THE   MARVELLOUS 

OF  CHRISTIANITY  SUPPLIES  THE  PLACE  OF  MYTHOLOGY THE 

INFERNO  OF  DANTE — THE  JERUSALEM  DELIVERED  OF  TASSO. 

LET  us  first  lay  down  certain  principles. 

Tn  every  epic  poem,  men  and  their  passions  are  calculated  to 
occupy  the  first  and  most  important  place. 

Every  poem,  therefore,  in  which  any  religion  is  employed  as 
the  subject  and  not  as  an  accessory,  in  which  the  marvellous  is 
the  ground  and  not  the  accident  of  the  picture,  is  essentially 
faulty. 

If  Homer  and  Virgil  had  laid  their  scenes  in  Olympus,  it  is 
doubtful  whether,  with  all  their  genius,  they  would  have  been 
able  to  sustain  the  dramatic  interest  to  the  end.  Agreeably  to 
this  remark,  we  must  not  ascribe  to  Christianity  the  languor  that 
pervades  certain  poems  in  which  the  principal  characters  are 
supernatural  beings ;  this  languor  arises  from  the  fault  of  the 
composition.  We  shall  find  in  confirmation  of  this  truth,  that 
the  more  the  poet  observes  a  due  medium  in  the  epic  between 
divine  and  human  things,  the  more  entertaining  he  is,  if  we  may 
be  allowed  to  use  an  expression  of  Boileau.  To  amuse,  for  the 
purpose  of  instructing,  is  the  first  quality  required  in  poetry. 

Passing  over  several  poems  written  in  a  barbarous  Latin  style, 
the  first  work  that  demands  our  attention  is  the  Divina  Comcdia 
of  Dante.  The  beauties  of  this  singular  production  proceed, 
with  few  exceptions,  from  Christianity:  its  faults  are  to  be  as 
cribed  to  the  age  and  the  bad  taste  of  the  author.  In  the  pa 
thetic  and  the  terrific,  Dante  has,  perhaps,  equalled  the  greatest 
poets.  The  details  of  his  poem  will  be  a  subject  of  future  con 
sideration. 

Modern  times  have  afforded  but  two  grand  subjects  for  an  epic 
poem — the  Crusades,  and  the  Discovery  of  the  New  World.  Mal- 
filatre  purposed  to  sing  the  latter.  The  Muses  still  lament  the 
premature  decease  of  this  youthful  poet  before  he  had  time  to 


THE   INFERNO— THE   JERUSALEM   DELIVERED.         213 

accomplish  his  design.  This  subject,  however,  has  the  dis 
advantage  of  being  foreign  for  a  Frenchman ;  and  according  to 
another  principle,  the  truth  of  which  cannot  be  con-jested,  a  poet 
ought  to  adopt  an  ancient  subject,  or,  if  he  select  a  modern 
one,  should  by  all  means  take  his  own  nation  for  his  theme. 

The  mention  of  the  Crusades  reminds  us  of  the  Jerusalem 
Delivered.  This  poem  is  a  perfect  model  of  composition.  Here 
you  may  learn  how  to  blend  subjects  together  without  confusion. 
The  art  with  which  Tasso  transports  you  from  a  battle  to  a  love- 
scene,  from  a  love-scene  to  a  council,  from  a  procession  to  an 
enchanted  palace,  from  an  enchanted  palace  to  a  camp,  from  an 
assault  to  the  grotto  of  an  anchorite,  from  the  tumult  of  a  be 
sieged  city  to  the  hut  of  a  shepherd,  is  truly  admirable.  His 
characters  are  drawn  with  no  less  ability.  The  ferocity  of  Argantes 
is  opposed  to  the  generosity  of  Tancred,  the  greatness  of  Soly- 
man  to  the  splendor  of  Rinaldo,  the  wisdom  of  Godfrey  to  the 
craft  of  Aladin;  and  even  Peter  the  hermit,  as  Voltaire  has 
remarked,  forms  a  striking  contrast  with  Ismeno  the  magician. 
As  to  the  females,  coquetry  is  depicted  in  Armida,  sensibility  in 
Erminia,  and  indifference  in  Clorinda.  Had  Tasso  portrayed 
the  mother,  he  would  have  made  the  complete  circle  of  female 
characters.  The  reason  of  this  omission  must,  perhaps,  be  sought 
in  the  nature  of  his  talents,  which  possessed  more  charms  than 
truth,  and  greater  brilliancy  than  tenderness. 

Homer  seems  to  have  been  particularly  endowed  with  genius, 
Virgil  with  sensibility,  Tasso  with  imagination.  We  should  not 
hesitate  what  place  to  assign  to  the  Italian  bard,  had  he  some  of 
those  pensive  graces  which  impart  such  sweetness  to  the  sighs  of 
the  Mantuan  swan ;  for  he  is  far  superior  to  the  latter  in  his 
characters,  battles,  and  composition.  But  Tasso  almost  always 
fails  when  he  attempts  to  express  the  feelings  of  the  heart;  and, 
as  the  traits  of  the  soul  constitute  the  genuine  beauties  of  a  poem, 
he  necessarily  falls  short  of  the  pathos  of  Virgil. 

If  the  Jerusalem  Delivered  is  adorned  with  the  flowers  of  ex 
quisite  poetry, — if  it  breathes  the  youth,  the  loves,  and  the  afflic 
tions,  of  that  great  and  unfortunate  man  who  produced  this  mas 
ter-piece  in  his  juvenile  years, — we  likewise  perceive  in  it  the 
faults  of  an  age  not  sufficiently  mature  for  such  a  high  attempt 
as  an  epic  poem.  Tasso's  measure  of  eight  feet  is  hardly  ever 


214  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

full ;  and  his  versification,  which  often  exhibits  marks  of  haste, 
cannot  be  compared  to  that  of  Virgil,  a  hundred  times  tem 
pered  in  the  fire  of  the  Muses.  It  must  likewise  be  remarked 
that  the  ideas  of  Tasso  are  not  of  so  fair  a  family  as  those  of  the 
Latin  bard.  The  works  of  the  ancients  may  be  known,  we  had 
almost  said,  by  their  blood.  They  display  not,  like  us,  a  few 
brilliant  ideas  sparkling  in  the  midst  of  a  multitude  of  common 
place  observations,  so  much  as  a  series  of  beautiful  thoughts, 
which  perfectly  harmonize  together,  and  have  a  sort  of  family 
likeness.  It  is  the  naked  group  of  Niobe's  simple,  modest,  blush 
ing  children,  holding  each  other  by  the  hand  with  an  engaging 
smile,  while  a  chaplet  of  flowers,  their  only  ornament,  encircles 
their  brows. 

After  the  Jerusalem  Delivered,  it  must  be  allowed  that  some 
thing  excellent  maybe  produced  with  a  Christian  subject.  What 
would  it  then  have  been  had  Tasso  ventured  to  employ  all  the 
grand  machinery  which  Christianity  could  have  supplied  ?  It  is 
obvious  that  he  was  deficient  in  boldness.  His  timidity  has 
obliged  him  to  have  recourse  to  the  petty  expedients  of  magic, 
whereas  he  might  have  turned  to  prodigious  account  the  tomb  of 
Jesus  Christ,  which  he  scarcely  mentions,  and  a  region  hallowed 
by  so  many  miracles.  The  same  timidity  has  occasioned  his 
failure  in  the  description  of  heaven,  while  his  picture  of  hell 
shows  many  marks  of  bad  taste.  It  may  be  added  that  he  has 
not  availed  himself  as  much  as  he  might  have  done  of  the  Mo 
hammedan  religion,  the  rites  of  which  are  the  more  curious  as 
being  the  less  known.  Finally,  he  might  have  taken  some  notice 
»f  ancient  Asia,  of  Egypt  so  highly  renowned,  of  Babylon  so 
vast,  and  Tyre  so  haughty,  and  of  the  times  of  Solomon  and 
Isaias.  How  could  the  muse,  when  visiting  the  land  of  Israel 
forget  the  harp  of  David  ?  Are  the  voices  of  the  prophets  no 
longer  to  be  heard  on  the  summits  of  Lebanon  ?  Do  not  their 
holy  shades  still  appear  beneath  the  cedars  and  among  the  pines  ? 
Has  the  choir  of  angels  ceased  to  sing  upon  Golgotha,  and  the 
M-ook  Cedron  to  murmur  ?  Surely  the  patriarchs,  and  Syria,  the 
nursery  of  the  world,  celebrated  in  some  part  of  the  Jerusalem 
delivered,  could  not  have  failed  to  produce  a  grand  efiect.1 

1  The  reader's  attention  may  here  be  invited  to  Palestine,  an  Oxford  IriTe 
poem,  wnttea  by  Mr.  Reginald  Hober.     It  derives  its  various  and  exquilito 


PARADISE   LOST.  215 


CHAPTER   III. 

PARADISE   LOST. 

THE  Paradise  Lost  of  Milton  may  be  charged  with  the  same 
fault  as  the  Inferno  of  Dante.  The  marvellous  forms  the  subject, 
and  not  the  machinery,  of  the  poem ;  but  it  abounds  with  superior 
beauties  which  essentially  belong  to  the  groundwork  of  our 
religion. 

The  poem  opens  in  the  infernal  world,  and  yet  this  beginning 
offends  in  no  respect  against  the  rule  of  simplicity  laid  down  by 
Aristotle.  An  edifice  so  astonishing  required  an  extraordinary 
portico  to  introduce  the  reader  all  at  once  into  this  unknown 
world,  which  he  was  no  more  to  quit. 

Milton  is  the  first  poet  who  has  closed  the  epic  with  the  mis 
fortune  of  the  principal  character,  contrary  to  the  rule  generally 
adopted.  We  are  of  opinion,  however,  that  there  is  something 
more  interesting,  more  solemn,  more  congenial  with  the  condition 
of  human  nature,  in  a  history  which  ends  in  sorrows,  than  in  one 
which  has  a  happy  termination.  It  may  even  be  asserted  that 
the  catastrophe  of  the  Iliad  is  tragical ;  for  if  the  son  of  Peleus 
obtains  the  object  of  his  wishes,  still  the  conclusion  of  the  poem 
leaves  a  deep  impression  of  grief.1  After  witnessing  the  funeral 
of  Patroclus,  Priam  redeeming  the  body  of  Hector,  the  anguish 

beauties  chiefly  from  Scriptural  sources.  Mr.  Heber,  endued  with  a  large  por 
tion  of  Tasso's  genius,  has  supplied  many  of  Tasso's  deficiences,  so  ably  enu 
merated  by  our  author.  K. 

1  This  sentiment,  perhaps,  arises  from  the  interest  which  is  felt  for  Hector. 
Hector  is  as  much  the  hero  of  the  poem  as  Achilles,  and  this  is  the  great  fault 
of  the  Iliad.  The  reader's  affections  are  certainly  engaged  by  the  Trojans, 
contrary  to  the  intention  of  the  poet,  because  all  the  dramatic  scenes  occur 
within  the  walls  of  Ilium.  The  aged  monarch,  Priam,  whose  only  crime  was 
too  much  love  for  a  guilty  son, — the  generous  Hector,  who  was  acquainted  with 
his  brother's  fault,  and  yet  defended  that  brother, — Andromache,  Astyanax, 
Hecuba, — melt  every  heart;  whereas  the  camp  of  the  Greeks  exhibits  naught 
but  avarice,  perfidy,  and  ferocity.  Perhaps,  also,  the  remembrance  of  the  JEneid 
secretly  influences  the  modern  reader  and  he  unintentionally  espouses  the  side 
of  the  heroes  sung  by  Virgil. 


216  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

of  Hecuba  and  Andromache  at  the  funeral  pile  of  that  hero, 
we  still  perceive  in  the  distance  the  death  of  Achilles  and  the 
fall  of  Troy. 

The  infancy  of  Rome,  sung  by  Virgil,  is  certainly  a  grand  sub 
ject;  but  what  shall  we  say  of  a  poem  that  depicts  a  catastrophe 
of  which  we  are  ourselves  the  victims,  and  which  exhibits  to  us 
not  the  founder  of  this  or  that  community,  but  the  father  of  the 
human  race  ?  Milton  describes  neither  battles,  nor  funeral  games, 
nor  camps,  nor  sieges  :  he  displays  the  grand  idea  of  God  mani 
fested  in  the  creation  of  the  universe,  and  the  first  thoughts  of 
man  on  issuing  from  the  hands  of  his  Maker. 

Nothing  can  be  more  august  and  more  interesting  than  this 
study  of  the  first  emotions  of  the  human  heart.  Adam  awakes 
to  life;  his  eyes  open;  he  knows  not  whence  he  originates.  He 
gazes  on  the  firmament ;  he  attempts  to  spring  toward  this  beau 
tiful  vault,  and  stands  erect,  with  his  head  nobly  raised  to  heaven. 
He  examines  himself,  he  touches  his  limbs ;  he  runs,  he  stops ; 
he  attempts  to  speak,  and  his  obedient  tongue  gives  utterance  to 
his  thoughts.  He  naturally  names  whatever  he  sees,  exclaiming, 
"O  sun,  and  trees,  forests,  hills,  valleys,  and  ye  different  ani 
mals  !"  and  all  the  names  which  he  gives  are  the  proper  appella 
tions  of  the  respective  beings.  And  why  does  he  exclaim,  "0 
sun,  and  ye  trees,  know  ye  the  name  of  Him  who  created  me  ?" 
The  first  sentiment  experienced  by  man  relates  to  the  existence 
of  a  Supreme  Being;  the  first  want  he  feels  is  the  want  of  a 
God !  How  sublime  is  Milton  in  this  passage !  But  would  he 
have  conceived  such  grand,  such  lofty  ideas,  had  he  been  a 
stranger  to  the  true  religion  ? 

God  manifests  himself  to  Adam ;  the  creature  and  the  Creator 
hold  converse  together;  they  discourse  on  solitude.  We  omit 
the  reflections.  God  knew  that  it  was  not  good  for  man  to  be 
alone.  Adam  falls  asleep ;  God  takes  from  the  side  of  our  com 
mon  father  the  substance  out  of  which  he  fashions  a  new  crea 
ture,  whom  he  conducts  to  him  on  his  waking. 

Grace  was  in  all  her  steps,  Heaven  in  her  eye, 
In  every  gesture  dignity  and  love. 

Woman  is  her  name,  of  man 

Extracted ;  for  this  cause  he  shall  forego 
Father  and  mother,  and  to  his  wife  adhere; 
And  they  shall  be  one  flesh,  one  heart,  one  soul. 


PARADISE   LOST.  217 

Wo  to  him  who  cannot  perceive  here  a  reflection  of  the  Deity ! 

The  poet  continues  to  develop  these  grand  views  of  human 
nature,  this  sublime  reason  of  Christianity.  The  character  of 
vhe  woman  is  admirably  delineated  in  the  fatal  fall.  Eve  trans 
gresses  by  self-love ;  she  boasts  that  she  is  strong  enough  alone 
to  encounter  temptation.  She  is  unwilling  that  Adam  should 
accompany  her  to  the  solitary  spot  where  she  cultivates  her 
flowers.  This  fair  creature,  who  thinks  herself  invincible  by  rea 
son  of  her  very  weakness,  knows  not  that  a  single  word  can  sub 
due  her.  Woman  is  always  delineated  in  the  Scripture  as  the 
slave  of  vanity.  When  Isaias  threatens  the  daughters  of  Jeru 
salem,  he  says,  "  The  Lord  will  take  away  your  ear-rings,  your 
bracelets,  your  rings,  and  your  veils."  We  have  witnessed  in  our 
own  days  a  striking  instance  of  this  disposition.  Many  a  woman, 
during  the  reign  of  terror,  exhibited  numberless  proofs  of  hero 
ism,  whose  virtue  has  since  fallen  a  victim  to  a  dance,  a  dress,  an 
amusement.  Here  we  have  the  development  of  one  of  those 
great  and  mysterious  truths  contained  in  the  Scriptures.  God, 
when  he  doomed  woman  to  bring  forth  with  pain,  conferred  v~  on 
her  an  invincible  fortitude  against  pain  ;  but  at  the  same  time, 
as  a  punishment  for  her  fault,  he  left  her  weak  against  pleasure. 
Milton  accordingly  denominates  her  "this  fair  defect  of  nature." 

The  manner  in  which  the  English  bard  has  conducted  the  fall 
of  our  first  parents  is  well  worthy  of  our  examination.  An  ordi 
nary  genius  would  not  have  failed  to  convulse  the  world  at  the 
moment  when  Eve  raises  the  fatal  fruit  to  her  lips;  but  Milton 
merely  represents  that — 

Earth  felt  the  wound,  and  Nature  from  her  seat, 
Sighing,  through  all  her  works  gave  signs  of  wo 
That  all  was  lost. 

The  reader  is,  in  fact,  the  more  surprised,  because  this  effect  is 
much  less  surprising.  What  calamities  does  this  present  tran 
quillity  of  nature  lead  us  to  anticipate  in  future!  Tertullian, 
inquiring  why  the  universe  is  not  disturbed  by  the  crimes  of 
men,  adduces  a  sublime  reason.  This  reason  is,  the  PATIENCE 
of  God. 

When  the  mother  of  mankind  presents  the  fruit  of  knowledge 
to  her  husband,  our  common  father  does  not  roll  himself  in  th« 
19 


218  GENIUS    OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


dust,  or  tear  his  hair,  or  loudly  vent  his  grief.  On  the  con 
trary, — 

Adam,  soon  as  he  heard 
The  fatal  trespass  done  by  Eve,  amaz'd, 
Astonied  stood  and  blank,  while  horror  chill 
Ran  through  his  veins,  and  all  his  joints  relax'd. 
Speechless  he  stood,  and  pale. 

He  perceives  the  whole  enormity  of  the  crime.  On  the  one  hand, 
if  he  disobey,  he  will  incur  the  penalty  of  death;  on  the  other, 
if  he  continue  faithful,  he  will  retain  his  immortality,  but  will 
lose  his  beloved  partner,  now  devoted  to  the  grave.  He  may  re 
fuse  the  fruit,  but  can  he  live  without  Eve?  The  conflict  is  long. 
A  world  at  last  is  sacrificed  to  love.  Adam,  instead  of  loading 
his  wife  with  reproaches,  endeavors  to  console  her,  and  accepts 
the  fatal  apple  from  her  hands.  On  this  consummation -of  the 
crime,  no  change  yet  takes  place  in  nature.  Only  the  first  storms 
of  the  passions  begin  to  agitate  the  hearts  of  the  unhappy  pair. 

Adam  and  Eve  fall  asleep;  but  they  have  lost  that  innocence 
which  renders  slumber  refreshing.  From  this  troubled  sleep  they 
rise  as  from  unrest.  'Tis  then  that  their  guilt  stares  them  in  the 
face.  "What  have  we  done?"  exclaims  Adam.  "Why  art  thou 
naked?  Let  us  seek  a  covering  for  ourselves,  lest  any  one  see  us 
in  this  state !"  But  clothing  does  not  conceal  the  nudity  which 
has  been  once  seen. 

Meanwhile  their  crime  is  known  in  heaven.  A  holy  sadness 
seizes  the  angels,  but 

Mix'd 

With  pity,  violated  not  their  bliss. 

A  truly  Christian  and  sublime  idea!  God  sends  his  Son  to  judge 
the  guilty.  He  comes  and  calls  Adam  in  the  solitude:  "Where 
art  thou?"  Adam  hides  himself  from  his  presence:  "Lord,  I 
dare  not  show  myself,  because  I  am  naked."  "How  dost  thou 
know  thyself  to  be  naked  ?  Hast  thou  eaten  the  fruit  of  know 
ledge?"  What  a  dialogue  passes  between  them!  It  is  not  of 
human  invention.  Adam  confesses  his  crime,  and  God  pro 
nounces  sentence:1  "Man!  in  the  sweat  of  thy  brow  shalt  thou 
eat  bread.  In  sorrow  shalt  thou  cultivate  the  earth,  till  thou  re- 

1  Genesis,  iii. ;  Paradise  Lost,  book  x. 


PARADISE   LOST.  219 

turn  unto  dust  from  which  thou  wast  taken.  Woman,  thou  shalt 
bring  forth  children  with  pain."  Such,  in  a  few  words,  is  the 
history  of  the  human  race.  We  know  not  if  the  reader  is  struck 
by  it  as  we  are;  but  we  find  in  this  scene  of  Genesis  something 
so  extraordinary  and  so  grand  that  it  defies  all  the  comments  of 
criticism.  Admiration  wants  terms  to  express  itself  with  ade 
quate  force,  and  art  sinks  into  nothing. 

The  Son  of  God  returns  to  heaven.  Then  commences  that 
celebrated  drama  between  Adam  and  Eve  in  which  Milton  is  said 
to  have  recorded  an  event  of  his  own  life — the  reconciliation  be 
tween  himself  and  his  first  consort.  We  are  persuaded  that  the 
great  writers  have  introduced  their  history  into  their  works.  It 
is  only  by  delineating  their  own  hearts,  and  attributing  them  to 
others,  that  they  are  enabled  to  give  such  exquisite  pictures  of 
nature ;  for  the  better  part  of  genius  consists  in  recollections. 

Behold  Adam  now  retiring  at  night  in  some  lonely  spot.  The 
nature  of  the  air  is  changed.  Cold  vapors  and  thick  clouds  ob 
scure  the  face  of  heaven.  The  lightning  has  scathed  the  trees. 
The  animals  flee  at  the  sight  of  man.  The  wolf  begins  to  pursue 
the  lamb,  the  vulture  to  prey  upon  the  dove.  He  is  overwhelmed 
with  despair.  He  wishes  to  return  to  his  native  dust.  YP* 
says  he, 

One  doubt 

Pursues  me  still,  lest  all  I  cannot  die  ; 
Lest  that  pure  breath  of  life,  the  spirit  of  man, 
Which  God  inspired,  cannot  together  perish 
With  corporeal  clod;  then  in  the  grave, 
Or  in  some  other  dismal  place,  who  knows 
But  I  shall  die  a  living  death  ? 

Can  philosophy  require  a  species  of  beauties  more  exalted  and 
more  solemn  ?  Not  only  the  poets  of  antiquity  furnish  no  instance 
of  a  despair  founded  on  such  a  basis,  but  moralists  themselves 
have  conceived  nothing  so  sublime. 

Eve,  hearing  her  husband's  lamentations,  approaches  with 
timidity.  Adam  sternly  repels  her.  Eve  falls  humbly  at  his 
feet  and  bathes  them  with  her  tears.  Adam  relents,  and  raises 
the  mother  of  the  human  race.  Eve  proposes  to  him  to  live  in 
continence,  or  to  inflict  death  upon  themselves  to  pave  their  poste 
rity.  This  despair,  so  admirably  ascribed  to  a  woman,  as  well  for 


220  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

its  vehemence  as  for  its  generosity,  strikes  our  common  father 
What  reply  does  he  make  to  his  wife? 

Eve,  thy  contempt  of  life  and  pleasure  seems 
To  aigue  in  thee  something  more  sublime 
And  excellent  than  what  thy  mind  contemns. 

The  unfortunate  pair  resolve  to  offer  up  their  prayers  to  God, 
and  to  implore  the  mercy  of  the  Almighty.  Prostrating  them 
selves  on  the  ground,  they  raise  their  hearts  and  voices,  in  a  spirit 
of  profound  humility,  toward  Him  who  is  the  source  of  forgive 
ness.  These  accents  ascend  to  heaven,  where  the  Son  himself 
undertakes  the  office  of  presenting  them  to  his  Father.  The 
suppliant  prayers  which  follow  Injury,  to  repair  the  mischiefs  she 
has  occasioned,  are  justly  admired  in  the  Iliad.  It  would  indeed 
be  impossible  to  invent  a  more  beautiful  allegory  on  the  subject 
of  prayer.  Yet  those  first  sighs  of  a  contrite  heart,  which  find 
the  way  that  the  sighs  of  the  whole  human  race  are  soon  destined 
to  follow, — those  humble  prayers  which  mingle  with  the  incense 
fuming  before  the  Holy  of  Holies, — those  penitent  tears  which  fill 
the  celestial  spirits  with  joy,  which  are  presented  to  the  Almighty 
by  the  Redeemer  of  mankind,  and  which  move  God  himself,  (such 
is  the  power  of  this  first  prayer  in  repentant  and  unhappy  man,) 
— all  those  circumstances  combined  have  in  them  something  so 
moral,  so  solemn,  and  so  pathetic,  that  they  cannot  be  said  to  be 
eclipsed  by  the  prayer*  of  the  bard  of  Ilium. 

The  Most  High  relents,  and  decrees  the  final  salvation  of  man. 
Milton  has  availed  himself  with  great  ability  of  this  first  mystery 
of  the  Scriptures,  and  has  everywhere  interwoven  the  impressive 
history  of  a  God,  who,  from  the  commencement  of  ages,  devotes 
himself  to  death  to  redeem  man  from  destruction.  The  fall  of 
Adam  acquires  a  higher  and  more  tragic  interest  when  we  behold 
it  involving  in  its  consequences  the  Son  of  the  Almighty  himself. 

Independently  of  these  beauties  which  belong  to  the  subject  of 
the  Paradise  Lost,  the  work  displays  minor  beauties  too  nume 
rous  for  us  to  notice.  Milton  had,  in  particular,  an  extraordinary 
felicity  of  expression.  Every  reader  is  acquainted  with  his  dark 
ness  visible,  his  incased  silence,  &c.  These  bold  expressions,  when 
sparingly  employed,  like  discords  in  music,  produce  a  highly 
brilliant  effect  They  have  a  counter  air  of  genius;  but  great 


PARADISE   LOST.  221 

care  must  be  taken  not  to  abuse  them.  When  tc<  studiously 
sought  after,  they  dwindle  into  a  mere  puerile  play  upon  words, 
as  injurious  to  the  language  as  they  are  inconsistent  with  good 
taste. 

We  shall,  moreover,  observe  that  the  bard  of  Eden,  after  the 
example  of  Virgil,  has  acquired  originality  in  appropriating  to 
himself  the  riches  of  others;  which  proves  that  the  original  style 
is  not  the  style  which  never  borrows  of  any  one,  but  that  which 
no  other  person  is  capable  of  reproducing. 

This  art  of  imitation,  known  to  all  great  writers,  consists  in  a 
certain  delicacy  of  taste  which  seizes  the  beauties  of  other  times, 
and  accommodates  them  to  the  present  age  and  manners.  Virgil 
is  a  model  in  this  respect.  Observe  how  he  has  transferred  to 
the  mother  of  Euryalus  the  lamentations  of  Andromache  on  the 
death  of  Hector.  In  this  passage  Homer  is  rather  more  natural 
tha.n  the  Mantuan  poet,  whom  he  has  moreover  furnished  with 
all  the  striking  circumstances,  such  as  the  work  falling  from  the 
hands  of  Andromache,  her  fainting,  &c.,  while  there  are  others, 
which  are  not  in  the  ^neid,  as  Andromache's  presentiment  of 
her  misfortune,  and  her  appearance  with  dishevelled  tresses  upon 
the  battlements;  but  then  the  episode  of  Euryalus  is  more  tender, 
more  pathetic.  The  mother  who  alone,  of  all  the  Trojan  women, 
resolved  to  follow  the  fortunes  of  her  son;  the  garments  with 
which  her  maternal  affection  was  engaged  and  now  rendered  use 
less;  her  exile,  her  age,  her  forlorn  condition  at  the  very  moment 
when  the  head  of  her  Euryalus  was  carried  under  the  ramparts 
of  the  camp; — such  are  the  conceptions  of  Virgil  alone.  The 
lamentations  of  Andromache,  being  more  diffuse,  lose  something 
of  their  energy.  Those  of  the  mother  of  Euryalus,  more  closely 
concentrated,  fall  with  increased  weight  upon  the  heart.  This 
proves  that  there  was  already  a  great  difference  between  the  age 
of  Virgil  and  Homer,  and  that  in  the  time  of  the  former  all  the 
arts,  even  that  of  love,  had  arrived  at  a  higher  perfection. 

19* 


222  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

OF    SOME    FRENCH    AND    FOREIGN    POEMS. 

HAD  Christianity  produced  no  other  poem  than  Paradise  Lost, — 
had  its  genius  inspired  neither  the  Jerusalem  Delivered,  nor 
Polyeuctes,  nor  Esther,  nor  Athalie,  nor  Zara,  nor  Alzira, — still 
we  might  insist  that  it  is  highly  favorable  to  the  Muses.  We 
shall  notice  in  this  chapter,  between  Paradise  Lost  and  the  Jlen- 
riad,  some  French  and  foreign  productions,  on  which  we  have 
but  a  few  words  to  say. 

The  more  remarkable  passages  in  the  Saint  Louis  of  Father 
Lemoine  have  been  so  frequently  quoted  that  we  shall  not  refer 
to  them  here.  This  poem,  rude  as  it  is,  possesses  beauties  which 
we  would  in  vain  look  for  in  the  Jerusalem.  It  displays  a  gloomy 
imagination,  well  adapted  to  the  description  of  that  Egypt,  so  full 
of  recollections  and  of  tombs,  which  has  witnessed  the  succession 
of  the  Pharaohs,  the  Ptolemies,  the  anchorets  of  Thebais,  and  the 
sultans  of  the  barbarians. 

The  Pucelle  of  Chapelain,  the  Maine  SauvS  of  Saint-Amand, 
and  the  David  of  Coras,  are  scarcely  known  at  present,  except 
by  the  verses  of  Boileau.  Some  benefit  may,  however,  be  derived 
from  the  perusal  of  these  works  :  the  last,  in  particular,  is  worthy 
of  notice. 

The  prophet  Samuel  relates  to  David  the  history  of  the  chiefs 
of  Israel : — 

Ne'er  shall  proud  tyrants,  said  the  sainted  seer, 
Escape  the  vengeance  of  the  King  of  kings; 
His  judgments  justly  poured  on  our  last  chiefs 
Stand  of  this  truth  a  lasting  monument. 


Look  but  at  Heli,  him  whom  God's  behest 
Appointed  Israel's  judge  and  pontiff  too! 
His  patriot  zeal  had  nobly  served  the  state 
If  not  extinguish'd  by  his  worthless  sons. 


FRENCH   AXD   FOREIGN   POEMS.  223 


Over  these  youths,  on  vicious  courses  bent, 
Jehovah  thundered  forth  his  dread  decree ; 
And  by  a  sacred  messenger  denounced 
Destruction  'gainst  them  both  and  all  their  race. 
Thou  knowest,  0  God!  the  awful  sentence  past, 
What  horrors  racked  old  Heli's  harrowed  soul ! 
These  eyes  his  anguish  witnessed,  and  this  brow 
He  oft  bedewed  with  grief-extorted  tears. 

These  lines  (in  the  original)  are  remarkable,  because  they  pos 
sess  no  mean  poetic  beauties.  The  apostrophe  which  terminates 
them  is  not  unworthy  of  a  first-rate  poet. 

The  episode  of  Ruth,  which  is  related  in  the  sepulchral  grotto, 
the  burial-place  of  the  ancient  patriarchs,  has  a  character  of  sim 
plicity  : — 

We  know  not  which,  the  husband  or  the  wife, 
Had  purer  soul,  or  more  of  happiness. 

Coras  is  sometimes  felicitous  in  description.  Witness  the  fol 
lowing  : — 

Meanwhile  the  sun,  with  peerless  glory  crowned, 
Lessening  in  form,  more  burning  rays  dispensed. 

Saint  Amand,  whom  Boileau  extols  as  a  man  of  some  genius, 
is  nevertheless  inferior  to  Coras.  The  Mo'ise  Sauve  is  a  languid 
composition,  the  versification  tame  and  prosaic,  and  the  style 
marked  by  antithesis  and  bad  taste.  It  contains,  however,  some 
fine  passages,  which  no  doubt  won  the  favor  of  the  critic  who 
wrote  the  Art  Poetique. 

It  would  be  useless  to  waste  our  time  upon  the  Araucana,  with 
its  three  parts  and  thirty-five  original  songs,  not  forgetting  the 
supplementary  ones  of  Don  Diego  de  Santisteban  Ojozio  It 
contains  nothing  of  the  Christian  marvellous.  It  is  an  historical 
narrative  of  certain  events  which  occurred  in  the  mountains  of 
Chili  The  most  interesting  feature  in  the  poem  is  the  figure 
made  in  it  by  Ercylla  himself,  who  appears  both  as  a  warrior  and 
a  writer.  The  Araucana  is  in  eight-line  stanzas,  like  the  Orlando 
and  the  Jerusalem.  Italian  literature  at  this  period  gave  the 
law  of  versification  to  all  European  nations.  Ercylla  among  the 
Spaniards,  and  Spenser  among  the  English,  have  adopted  this 
kind  of  stanza,  and  imitated  Ariosto  even  in  the  arrangement  of 
their  subjects. 


224  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

Ercylla  says  :  — 

No  las  damns,  amor,  no  gentilezas, 
De  cabelleros  canto  enamorados, 
Ni  las  muestras,  rcgalos  y  ternezas 
De  amorosos  afectos  y  cuidados: 
Mas  el  valor,  los  hechos,  las  proezas 
De  aquellos  Espanoles  esforzados, 
Que  a  la  cerviz  do  Arauco  no  domada 
Pusieron  duro  yugo  por  la  espada. 

The  subject  of  the  Lusiad  is  a  very  rich  one  for  an  epic  poem 
~i  is  difficult  to  conceive  how  a  man  possessing  the  genius  of 
^*moens  should  not  have  had  the  art  to  turn  it  to  better  account 
that,  he  has  done.  At  the  same  time,  it  should  be  recollected 
thai  this  is  the  first  modern  epic,  that  he  lived  in  a  barbarous 
age,  that  there  are  many  pathetic1  and  even  sublime  touches  in 
the  details  of  his  poem,  and  that  after  all  the  bard  of  the  Ta<rus 
was  the  most  unfortunate  of  mortals.  It  is  a  false  notion,  worthy 
of  our  hard-hearted  age,  that  the  noblest  works  are  produced  in 
adversity;-  for  it  is  not  true  that  a  man  can  write  best  under  the 
pressure  oi  misfortune.  All  those  inspired  men  who  devote 
themselves  to  the  service  of  the  muses  are  sooner  overwhelmed 
by  affliction  tlmn  vulgar  minds.  A  mighty  genius  speedily  wears 
out  the  body  which  it  animates;  great  souls,  like  large  rivers,  are 
liable  to  lay  waste  their  banks. 

The  manner  in  which  Camoens  has  intermixed  fable  and  Chris 
tianity  renders  it  unnecessary  for  us  to  say  any  thing  of  the 
marvellous  of  his  performance. 

Klopstock  has  also  committed  the  fault  of  taking  the  marvel 
lous  of  Christianity  for  the  subject  of  his  poem.  His  principal 
character  is  the  Divinity,  and  this  alone  would  be  sufficient  to 
destroy  the  tragic  effect.  There  are,  however,  some  beautiful 
passages  in  the  Messiah.  The  two  lovers  whom  Christ  raised 
from  the  dead  furnish  a  charming  episode,  which  the  mythologic 

'  We  nevertheless  differ  on  this  subject  from  other  critics.  The  episode  of 
Ines  is,  in  our  opinion,  chaste  and  pathetic,  but  has  been  upon  the  whole  too 

e  devel°Pment8  of  whi<*  it  was  BUS- 


2  Juvenal  has  applied  a  similar  observation  to  the  epic  poet  : 
Nam  si  Virgilio  puer,  -et  tolerabile  deesset 
Hospitium,  caderent  omnes  a  crinibus  hydri, 
Surda  nihil  gemeret  grave  buccina. 


FRENCH   AND   FOREIGN   POEMS.  225 


times  could  never  have  produced.  We  recollect  no  characters 
recalled  from  the  grave  among  the  ancients,  except  Alceste,  Hip- 
polytus,  and  Heres  of  Pamphylia.1 

Richness  and  grandeur  are  the  particular  characteristics  of  the 
marvellous  in  the  Messiah.  Those  spheres  inhabited  by  beings 
of  a  different  nature  from  man — the  multitude  of  angels,  spirits 
of  darkness,  unborn  souls,  and  souls  that  have  already  finished 
the  career  of  mortality, — plunge  the  mind  into  the  ocean  of  im 
mensity.  The  character  of  Abbadona,  the  penitent  angel,  is 
a  happy  conception.  Klopstock  has  also  created  a  species  of 
mystic  seraphs,  wholly  unknown  before  his  time. 

Gessner  has  left  us  in  his  Death  of  Abel  a  work  replete  with 
tenderness  and  majesty.  It  is  unfortunately  spoiled  by  that  sickly 
tincture  of  the  idyl  which  the  Germans  generally  give  to  subjects 
taken  from  Scripture;  they  are  all  guilty  of  violating  one  of  the 
principal  laws  of  the  epic,  consistency  of  manners,  and  transform 
the  pastoral  monarchs  of  the  East  into  innocent  shepherds  of 
Arcadia. 

As  to  the  author  of  NoaTi,  he  was  overwhelmed  by  the  richness 
of  his  subject.  To  a  vigorous  imagination,  however,  the  ante 
diluvian  world  opens  a  grand  and  extensive  field.  There  would 
be  no  necessity  for  creating  all  its  wonders :  by  turning  to  the 
Critias  of  Plato,2  the  Chronologies  of  Eusebius,  and  some  treatises 
of  Lucian  and  Plutarch,  an  abundant  harvest  might  be  obtained. 
Scaliger  quotes  a  fragment  of  Polyhistor,  respecting  certain  tables 
written  before  the  deluge  and  preserved  at  Sippary,  probably 
the  same  as  the  Sippliara  of  Ptolemy.3  The  muses  speak  and 
understand  all  languages :  how  many  things  might  they  decipher 
on  these  tables ! 


1  In  Plato's  Republic,  book  x.     Since  the  appearance  of  the  first  edition,  we 
have  been  informed  by  Mr.  Boissonade,  a  philologist  equally  learned  and  polite, 
that  several  other  personages  are  mentioned  by  Apollodorus  and  Telesarchus  as 
having  been  resuscitated  in  pagan  antiquity. 

2  The  Crit'.as  or  Atlanticus  is  an  unfinished  dialogue  of  Plato.     He  describes 
an  atlantic  island  that  existed  in  the  infancy  of  the  world.     Its  climate  waa 
genial  and  its  soil  fertile.     It  was  inhabited  by  a  happy  race  of  mortals,  who 
cultivated  arts  similar  to  those  of  Greece.     This  island,  according  to  the  beau 
tiful  tradition  of  the  Egyptian  priests,  was  swallowed  up  by  an  inundation 
prior  to  the  deluge  ol  Deucaleon. 

3  Unless  we  derive  Sippary  from  the  Hebrew  word  Sepher,  which  signifies  a 

P 


226  3ENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER   V. 

THE    HENRIAD. 

IF  a  judicious  plan,  a  spirited  and  well-sustained  narrative, 
excellent  versification,  a  pure  taste,  and  a  correct  and  flowing 
style,  were  the  only  qualities  necessary  for  the  epic,  the  Ilenriad 
would  be  a  perfect  poem :  these,  however,  are  not  sufficient,  for 
it  requires  besides  an  heroic  and  supernatural  action.  But  how 
could  Voltaire  have  made  a  happy  application  of  the  marvellous 
of  Christianity— he  who  directed  all  his  efforts  to  the  destruction 
of  that  marvellous  ?  Such  is,  nevertheless,  the  power  of  religious 
ideas,  that  to  the  very  faith  which  he  persecuted  the  author  of 
the  Ilenriad  is  indebted  for  the  most  striking  passages  of  his 
epic  poem,  as  well  as  for  the  most  exquisite  scenes  in  his  tra 
gedies. 

A  tincture  of  philosophy  and  a  cold  and  grave  morality  be 
come  the  historic  muse ;  but  this  spirit  of  severity  transferred  to 
the  epic  is  a  sort  of  contradiction.  When,  therefore,  Voltaire,  in 
the  invocation  of  his  poem,  exclaims — 

From  thy  celestial  seat,  illustrious  Truth, 
Descend 

he  has  fallen,  in  our  opinion,  into  a  gross  mistake.     Epic  poetry 
Is  built  on  fable,  and  by  fiction  lives. 

Tasso,  who  also  treated  a  Christian  subject,  followed  Plato  and 

Lucretius1  in  his  charming  lines  beginning — 

Sai  che  la  torre  in  mondo,  ove  piu  versi 
Di  sue  dolcezze  il  lusinghier  Parnasso,  <fcc. 

library.  Josephus  (de  Antiq.  Jud.,  lib.  i.  c.  2)  mentions  two  columns,  one  of 
nek,  the  other  of  stone,  on  which  Seth's  children  had  engraved  the  human 
fences  that  they  might  not  be  swept  away  by  the  deluge,  which  Adam  had 

predicted.     These  two  columns  are  said  to  have  existed  long  after  the  time  of 

1  "A3  the  physician  who,  to  save  his  patient,  mixes  pleasant  draughts  with 
ie  medicines  proper  for  curing  him,  and,  on  the  contrary,  introduces  bitter 
drugs  into  such  aliments  as  are  pernicious,"  Ac.     Plato,  de  Lea    lib   i      A 
p.  ueris  absinthia  tetra  medentes,  &c.     Lucret.,  lib.  v. 


THE   HENRIAD.  227 

"There  can  be  no  good  poetry  where  there  is  no  fiction/'  ob 
serves  Plutarch.1 

Was  semi-barbarous  France  no  longer  sufficiently  covered  with 
forests  to  present  some  castle  of  the  days  of  yore,  with  its  port 
cullis,  dungeons,  and  towers  overgrown  with  ivy,  and  teeming 
with  marvellous  adventures?  Was  there  no  Gothic  temple  to  be 
found  in  a  solitary  valley,  embosomed  in  woods  ?  Had  not  the 
mountains  of  Navarre  some  druid,  a  child  of  the  rock,  who,  be 
neath  the  sacred  oak,  on  the  bank  of  the  torrent,  amid  the  howl 
ing  of  the  tempest,  celebrated  the  deeds  of  the  Gauls  and  wept, 
over  the  tombs  of  heroes?  I  am  sure  there  must  have  been  still 
left  some  knight  of  the  reign  of  Francis  I.,  who  within  his  an 
tique  mansion  regretted  the  tournaments  of  former  days  and  the 
good  old  times  when  France  went  to  war  with  recreants  and  in 
fidels.  How  many  circumstances  might  have  been  gleaned  from 
that  Batavian  revolution,  the  neighbor,  and,  as  it  were,  the  sister, 
of  the  League!  The  Dutch  were  just  then  forming  settlements 
in  the  Indies,  and  Philip  was  receiving  the  first  treasures  from 
Peru.  Coligny  had  even  sent  a  colony  to  Carolina;  the  Chevalier 
de  Gourgues  would  have  furnished  the  author  of  the  Henriad 
with  a  splendid  and  pathetic  episode.  An  epic  poem  should  em 
brace  the  universe. 

Europe,  by  the  happiest  of  contrasts,  exhibited  a  pastoral  na 
tion  in  Switzerland,  a  commercial  nation  in  England,  and  a  nation 
devoted  to  the  arts  in  Italy.  France  also  presented  a  most 
favorable  epoch  for  epic  poetry;  an  epoch  which  ought  always  to 
be  chosen,  as  it  was  by  Voltaire,  at  the  conclusion  of  one  age 
and  at  the  commencement  of  another ;  an  epoch  bordering  upon 
old  manners  on  the  c.ne  hand  and  new  manners  on  the  other. 
Barbarism  was  expiring,  and  the  brilliant  age  of  the  great  Louis 
began  to  dawn.  Malherbe  was  come,  and  that  hero,  both  a  bard 
and  a  knight,  could  lead  the  French  to  battle,  at  the  same  time 
chanting  hymns  to  victory. 

It  is  admitted  that  the  characters  in  the  Henriad  are  but  por- 


'  If  we  were  to  be  told  that  Tasso  had  also  invoked  Truth,  we  should  reply 
that  he  has  not  done  it  like  Voltaire.  Tasso's  Truth  is  a  muse,  an  angel,  a 
vague  something  without  a  name,  a  Christian  being,  and  not  Truth  directly 
personified,  like  that  of  the  Henriad. 


228  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


traits,  and  this  species  of  painting,  of  which  Rome  in  her  decline 
exhibited  the  first  models,  has  been  perhaps  too  highly  ex 
tolled. 

The  portrait  belongs  not  to  the  epic.  Its  beauties  are  destitute 
of  action  and  motion. 

Some  have  likewise  questioned  whether  consistency  of  manners 
be  sufficiently  preserved  in  the  Ilcnriad.  The  heroes  of  that 
poem  spout  very  fine  verses,  which  serve  as  vehicles  for  the  phi 
losophical  principles  of  Voltaire;  but  are  they  good  representa 
tives  of  warriors  such  as  they  actually  were  in  the  sixteenth 
century?  If  the  speeches  of  the  Leaguers  breathe  the  spirit  of 
the  age,  are  we  not  authorized  to  think  that  the  actions  of  the 
characters  should  display  this  spirit  still  more  than  their  words  ? 
At  least  the  bard  who  has  celebrated  Achilles  has  not  thrown 
the  Iliad  into  dialogue. 

As  to  the  marvellous,  it  amounts  to  little  more  than  nothing 
in  the  Henriad.  If  we  were  not  acquainted  with  the  wretched 
system  which  froze  the  poetic  genius  of  Voltaire,  we  should  be 
at  a  loss  to  conceive  how  he  could  have  preferred  allegorical 
divinities  to  the  marvellous  of  Christianity.  He  has  imparted 
DO  warmth  to  his  inventions  except  in  those  passages  where  he 
has  ceased  to  be  a  philosopher  that  he  may  become  a  Christian. 
No  sooner  does  he  touch  upon  religion,  the  source  of  all  poetry, 
than  the  current  freely  flows.  The  oath  of  the  sixteen  in  the 
cavern,  the  appearance  of  the  ghost  of  Guise,  which  comes  to 
furnish  Clement  with  a  dagger,  are  circumstances  highly  epic, 
and  borrowed  even  from  the  superstitious  of  an  ignorant  and 
unhappy  age. 

Was  not  the  poet  guilty  of  another  error  when  he  introduced 
his  philosophy  into  heaven  ?  His  Supreme  Being  is,  doubtless, 
a  very,  equitable  God,  who  judges  with  strict  impartiality  both 
the  Bonze  and  the  Dervise,  the  Jew  and  the  Mohammedan;  but 
was  this  to  be  expected  of  the  muse?  Should  we  not  rather 
require  of  her  poetry,  a  Christian  heaven,  sacred  songs,  Jehovah, 
in  a  word,  the  mens  divinior — religion  ? 

Voltaire  has,  therefore,  broken  with  his  own  hand  the  most 
harmonious  string  of  his  lyre,  in  refusing  to  celebrate  that  sacred 
host,  that  glorious  army  of  martyrs  and  angels,  with  which  his 
talents  would  have  produced  an  admirable  effect.  He  might 


THE  HENRIAD.  229 


have  found  among  our  saints  powers  as  great  as  those  of  the 
goddesses  of  old  and  names  as  sweet  as  those  of  the  graces. 
What  a  pity  that  he  did  not  choose  to  make  mention  of  those 
shepherdesses  transformed,  for  their  virtues,  into  beneficent 
divinities  j  of  those  Genevieves  who,  in  the  mansions  of  bliss, 
protect  the  empire  of  Clovis  and  Charlemagne  !  In  our  opin 
ion,  it  must  be  a  sight  not  wholly  destitute  of  charms  for  the 
muses,  to  behold  the  most  intelligent  and  the  most  valiant 
of  nations  consecrated  by  religion  to  the  daughter  of  simpli 
city  and  peace.  Whence  did  the  Gauls  derive  their  trouba 
dours,  their  frankness  of  mind,  and  their  love  of  the  graces, 
except  from  the  pastoral  strains,  the  innocence,  and  the  beauty,  of 
their  patroness  ? 

Judicious  critics  have  observed  that  there  are  two  individuals 
iii  Voltaire — the  one  abounding  in  taste,  science,  and  reason,  and 
the  other  marked  by  the  contrary  defects.  It  may  be  questioned 
whether  the  author  of  the  Henriad  possessed  a  genius  equal 
to  Racine,  but  he  had  perhaps  more  varied  talents  and  a  more 
flexible  imagination.  Unfortunately,  what  we  are  able  to  do  is 
not  always  the  measure  of  what  we  actually  accomplish.  If  Vol 
taire  had  been  animated  by  religion,  like  the  author  of  Athalie, 
and  like  him  had  profoundly  studied  the  works  of  the  fathers 
and  antiquity, — if  he  had  not  grasped  at  every  species  of  compo 
sition  and  every  kind  of  subject, — his  poetry  would  have  been 
more  nervous,  and  his  prose  would  have  acquired  a  decorum  and 
gravity  in  which  it  is  but  too  often  deficient.  This  great  man 
had  the  misfortune  to  pass  his  life  amid  a  circle  of  scholars  of 
moderate  abilities,  who,  always  ready  to  applaud,  were  incapable 
of  apprising  him  of  his  errors.  We  love  to  represent  him  to 
ourselves  in  the  company  of  his  equals — the  Pascals,  the  Arnauds, 
the  Nicoles,  the  Boileaus,  the  Racines.  By  associating  with  such 
men  he  would  have  been  obliged  to  alter  his  tone.  The  jests 
and  the  blasphemies  of  Forney  would  have  excited  indignation 
at  Port  Royal.  The  inmates  of  that  institution  detested  works 
composed  in  a  hurry,  and  would  not,  for  all  the  world,  have 
deceived  the  public  by  submitting  to  it  a  poem  which  had  not 
cost  them  the  labor  of  twelve  long  years  at  least;  and  a  circum 
stance  truly  astonishing  is,  that,  amid  so  many  occupations,  these 
excellent  men  still  found  means  to  fulfil  every,  even  the  least 
20 


230  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANm. 


important,  of  their  religious  duties,  and  to  carry  with  them  into 
society  the  urbanity  of  their  illustrious  age.1 

Such  a  school  Voltaire  wanted.  He  is  greatly  to  be  pitied  for 
having  possessed  that  twofold  genius  which  extorts  at  the  same 
time  our  admiration  and  our  hatred.  He  erects  and  overthrows ; 
he  gives  the  most  contradictory  examples  and  precepts;  he  extols 
the  age  of  Lo'iis  XIV.  to  the  skies,  and  afterward  attacks  in 
detail  the  reputation  of  its  great  men.  He  alternately  praises 
and  slanders  antiquity;  he  pursues  through  seventy  volumes 
what  he  denominates  the  wretch,  and  yet  the  finest  passages  in 
his  works  were  inspired  by  religion.  While  his  imagination 
enchants  you,  he  throws  around  him  the  glare  of  a  fallacious 
reason,  which  destroys  the  marvellous,  contracts  the  soul,  and 
shortens  the  sight.  Except  in  some  of  his  master-pieces,  he  con 
siders  only  the  ludicrous  side  of  things  and  times,  and  exhibits 
man  to  man  in  a  light  hideously  diverting.  He  charms  and 
fatigues  by  his  versatility;  he  both  delights  and  disgusts  you; 
you  are  at  a  loss  to  decide  what  form  is  peculiarly  his  own ;  you 
would  think  him  insane,  were  it  not  for  his  good  sense,  and  a 
misanthropist,  did  not  his  life  abound  with  acts  of  beneficence. 
You  can  perceive,  amid  all  his  impieties,  that  he  hated  sophists.9 
To  love  the  fine  arts,  letters,  and  magnificence,  was  so  natural  to 
him  that  it  is  nothing  uncommon  to  find  him  in  a  kind  of  ad 
miration  of  the  court  of  Rome.  His  vanity  caused  him,  through 
out  his  life,  to  act  a  part  for  which  he  was  not  formed,  and  which 
was  very  far  beneath  him.  He  bore,  in  fact,  no  resemblance  to 
Diderot,  Rayual,  or  D'Alembert.  The  elegance  of  his  manners, 
the  urbanity  of  his  demeanor,  his  love  of  society,  and,  above  all, 
his  humanity,  would  probably  have  rendered  him  one  of  the  most 
inveterate  enemies  of  the  revolutionary  system.  He  is  most 
decidedly  in  favor  of  social  order,  while  he  unconsciously  saps  its 
foundations  by  attacking  the  institutions  of  religion.  The  most 
equitable  judgment  that  can  be  passed  upon  him  is  that  his 


1  It  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  the  excellence  of  these  writers  and  their 
literary  labors  were  so  deeply  sullied  by  their  attachment  to  the  cause  of 
Jansenism.  Though  Voltaire  was  not  the  cotemporary  of  Pascal,  he  knew  how 
to  combat  Christianity  with  the  same  weapons  of  ridicule  that  the  latter  had 
employed  against  the  Society  of  Jesus,  the  great  bulwark  of  Catholicism  in 
that  age.  T.  2  See  note  N. 


THE  HENRIAD.  23] 


infidelity  prevented  his  attaining  the  height  for  which  nature 
qualified  him,  rnd  that  his  works  (with  the  exception  of  his 
fugitive  poems)  have  fallen  very  short  of  his  actual  abilities — an 
example  which  ought  to  be  an  everlasting  warning  to  all  those 
who  pursue  the  career  of  letters.1  Voltaire  was  betrayed  into  all 
these  errors,  all  these  contradictions  of  style  and  sentiment,  only 
because  he  wanted  the  great  counterpoise  of  religion;  and  he  is 
an  instance  to  prove  that  grave  morals  and  piety  of  thought  are 
more  necessary  even  than  a  brilliant  genius  for  the  successful 
cultivation  of  the  muse. 

'"Voltaire's  pen  was  fertile  and  very  elegant;  his  observations  are  very 
acute,  yet  he  often  betrays  great  ignorance  when  he  treats  on  subjects  of  an 
cient  learning.  Madame  de  Talmond  once  said  to  him,  '  I  think,  sir,  that  a 
philosopher  should  never  write  but  to  endeavor  to  render  mankind  less  wicked 
and  unhappy  than  they  are.  Now  you  do  quite  the  contrary;  you  are  always 
writing  against  that  religion  which  alone  is  able  to  restrain  wickedness  and  to 
afford  us  consolation  under  misfortunes.'  Voltaire  was  much  struck,  and  ex 
cused  himself  by  saying  that  he  only  wrote  for  those  who  were  of  the  same 
opinion  with  himself.  Tronchin  assured  his  friends  that  Voltaire  died  in  great 
agonies  of  mind.  'I  die  forsaken  by  Gods  and  men!'  exclaimed  he,  in  those 
awful  moments  when  truth  will  force  its  way.  'I  wish,'  added  Tronchin,  'that 
those  who  had  been  perverted  by  his  writings  had  been  present  at  his  death. 
It  was  a  sight  too  horrid  to  support.  "  Seward's  Anecdote*,  vol.  v.  p.  274. 


BOOK    II. 

OF  POETRY  CONSIDERED  IN  ITS  RELATION  TO   MAN. 

Characters. 

CHAPTER   I. 

NATURAL    CHARACTERS. 

FROM  the  general  survey  of  epic  poems  we  shall  pass  to  the 
details  of  poetic  compositions.  Let  us  first  consider  the  natural 
characters,  such  as  the  husband  and  wife,  the  father,  the  mother, 
&c.,  before  we  enter  upon  the  examination  of  the  social  charac 
ters,  such  as  the  priest  and  the  soldier ;  and  let  us  set  out  from  a 
principle  that  cannot  be  contested. 

Christianity  is,  if  we  may  so  express  it,  a  double  religion.  Its 
teaching  has  reference  to  the  nature  of  intellectual  being,  and 
also  to  our  own  nature  :  it  makes  the  mysteries  of  the  Divinity 
and  the  mysteries  of  the  human  heart  go  hand-in-hand ;  and,  by 
removing  the  veil  that  conceals  the  true  God,  it  also  exhibits  man 
just  as  he  is. 

Such  a  religion  must  necessarily  be  more  favorable  to  the 
delineation  of  characters  than  another  which  dives  not  into  the 
secrets  of  the  passions.  The  fairer  half  of  poetry,  the  dramatic, 
received  no  assistance  from  polytheism,  for  morals  were  sepa 
rated  from  mythology.1  A  god  ascended  his  chariot,  a  priest 
offered  a  sacrifice ;  but  neither  the  god  nor  the  priest  taught  what 
man  is,  whence  he  comes,  whither  he  goes,  what  are  his  propen 
sities,  his  vices,  his  virtues,  his  ends  in  this  life  and  his  destinies 
in  another. 

In  Christianity,  on  the  contrary,  religion  and  morals  are  one 
and  the  same  thing.  The  Scripture  informs  us  of  our  origin ;  it 

1  See  note  0. 
232 


ULYSSES   AND   PENELOPE.  233 


makes  us  acquainted  with  our  twofold  nature ;  the  Christian 
mysteries  all  relate  to  us ;  we  are  everywhere  seen  ;  for  us  the 
Son  of  God  is  sacrificed.  From  Moses  to  Jesus  Christ,  from  the 
apostles  to  the  last  fathers  of  the  Church,  every  thing  presents 
the  picture  of  the  internal  man,  every  thing  tends  to  dispel  the 
obscurity  in  which  he  is  enveloped;  and  one  of  the  distinguishing 
characteristics  of  Christianity  is  that  it  invariably  introduces 
man  in  conjunction  with  God,  whereas  the  false  religions  have 
separated  the  Creator  from  the  creature. 

Here,  then,  is  an  incalculable  advantage  which  poets  ought  to 
have  observed  in  the  Christian  religion,  instead  of  obstinately 
continuing  to  decry  it.  For  if  it  is  equal  to  polytheism  in  the 
marvellous,  or  in  the  relations  of  supernatural  things,  as  we  shall 
in  the  sequel  attempt  to  prove,  it  has  moreover  the  drama  and 
moral  part  which  polytheism  did  not  embrace. 

In  support  of  this  great  truth,  we  shall  adduce  examples ;  we 
shall  ^nstitute  comparisons,  which,  while  they  refine  our  taste, 
may  serve  to  attach  us  to  the  religion  of  our  forefathers  by  the 
charms  of  the  most  divine  among  the  arts. 

We  shall  commence  the  study  of  the  natural  characters  by 
that  of  husband  and  wife,  and  contrast  the  conjugal  love  of  Adam 
and  Eve  with  the  conjugal  love  of  Ulysses  and  Penelope.  It  will 
not  be  said  of  us  that  we  have  purposely  selected  inferior  sub 
jects  in  antiquity,  in  order  to  heighten  the  effect  of  the  Christian 
subjects. 


CHAPTER  II. 

THE    HUSBAND   AND    WIPE. 

Ulysses  and  fen  el  ope. 

THE  suitors  having  been  slain  by  Ulysses,  Euryclea  goes  to 
awaken  Penelope,  who  long  refuses  to  believe  the  wonderful  story 
related  by  her  nurse.  She  rises,  however,  and,  "descending  the 
steps,  passed  the  stone  threshold,  and  sat  down  opposite  to 

Ulysses,  who  was  himself  seated  at  the  foot  of  a  lofty  column, 
20* 


234  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


and,  his  eyes  fixed  on  the  ground,  was  waiting  to  hear  what  his 
wife  would  say.  But  she  kept  silence,  for  great  astonishment 
had  seized  her  heart."1 

Telemachus  accuses  his  mother  of  coldness.  Ulysses  smiles, 
and  makes  an  excuse  for  Penelope.  The  princess  still  doubts; 
and,  to  try  her  husband,  commands  the  bed  of  Ulysses  to  be  pre 
pared  out  of  the  nuptial  chamber;  upon  which  the  hero  imme 
diately  exclaims,  "Who,  then,  has  removed  my  couch?  Is  it  no 
longer  spread  on  the  trunk  of  the  olive,  around  which  I  built 
with  this  hand  a  bower  in  my  court  ?" 

"  He  said ;  and  suddenly  the  heart  and  knees  of  Penelope  at 
once  failed  her;  she  recognised  Ulysses  by  this  indubitable  sign. 
Soon  running  to  him,  bathed  in  tears,  she  threw  her  arms  about 
her  husband's  neck;  she  kissed  his  sacred  head,  and  cried, 
'  Be  not  angry,  thou  who  wast  always  the  wisest  of  men  !  Let 
me  not  move  thy  wrath,  if  I  forbore  to  throw  myself  into  thine 
amis.  My  heart  trembled  for  fear  a  stranger  should  betray  my 

faith  by  deceitful  words But  now  I  have  a  manifest 

proof  that  it  is  thyself,  by  that  which  thou  hast  said  concerning 
our  couch,  which  no  other  man  has  ever  seen,  which  is  known  to 
ourselves  and  to  Actoris  alone,  (the  slave  whom  my  father  gave 
to  me  when  I  came  to  Ithaca,  and  who  is  the  only  attendant  on 
our  nuptial  chamber.)  Thou  restorest  confidence  to  this  heart 
rendered  distrustful  by  grief/ 

"  She  said  :  and  Ulysses,  unable  to  restrain  his  tears,  wept 
over  this  chaste  and  prudent  spouse,  whom  he  pressed  to  his 
heart.  As  mariners  gaze  at  the  wished-for  land,  when  Neptune 
has  shattered  their  rapid  vessel,  the  sport  of  the  winds  and  the 
mountain  billows, — when  a  small  number  of  the  crew,  floating  on 
the  bosom  of  the  ocean,  swim  to  the  shore,  and,  covered  with 
briny  foam,  gain  the  strand,  overjoyed  at  their  narrow  escape 
from  destruction, — so  Penelope  fixed  her  delighted  eyes  on  Ulysses. 
She  could  not  take  her  arms  from  the  hero's  neck,  and  rosy- 
lingered  Aurora  would  have  beheld  the  sacred  tears  of  the  royal 

pair  had  not  Minerva  held  back  the  sun  in  the  wavy  main 

Meanwhile,  Eurynome,  with  a  torch  in  her  hand,  goes  before 
Ulysses  and  Penelope,  and  conducts  them  to  the  nuptial  chamber. 

1  Odyss.,  b.  xxiii.  v.  88. 


ULYSSES   AND   PENELOPE.  235 


The  king  and  his  consort,  after  yielding  to  the  bland 
ishments  of  love,  enchanted  each  other  by  the  mutual  recital  of 

their  sorrows Scarcely  had  Ulysses  finished  the  last 

words  of  his  history,  when  beneficent  slumber,  stealing  upon  his 
weary  limbs,  produced  a  sweet  forgetfulness  of  all  his  cares/' 

This  meeting  of  Ulysses  and  Penelope  is,  perhaps,  one  of  the 
most  exquisite  specimens  of  ancient  genius.  Penelope  sitting  in 
silence,  Ulysses  motionless  at  the  foot  of  a  column,  and  the 
scene  illumined  by  the  blaze  of  the  hospitable  hearth — what 
grandeur  and  what  simplicity  of  design  !  And  by  what  means 
do  they  recognise  each  other  ?  By  the  mention  of  a  circumstance 
relative  to  the  nuptial  couch.  Another  object  of  admiration  is, 
that  the  couch  itself  was  formed  by  the  hand  of  a  king  upon  the 
trunk  of  an  olive-tree,  the  tree  of  peace  and  of  wisdom,  worthy 
of  supporting  that  bed  which  never  received  any  other  man  than 
Ulysses.  The  transports  which  succeed  the  discovery;  that  deeply 
affecting  comparison  of  a  widow  finding  her  long-lost  husband 
to  a  mariner  who  descries  land  at  the  very  moment  of  ship 
wreck;  the  conjugal  pair  conducted  by  torch-light  to  their 
apartment;  the  pleasures  of  love  followed  by  the  joys  of  grief 
or  the  mutual  communication  of  past  sorrows ;  the  twofold  de 
light  of  present  happiness  and  recollected  misfortunes ;  that  sleep 
which  gradually  steals  on,  and  at  length  closes  the  eyes  and  lips 
of  Ulysses,  while  relating  his  adventures  to  the  attentive  Pene 
lope  :  all  these  traits  display  the  hand  of  a  master,  and  cannot  be 
too  highly  admired. 

It  would  be  a  truly  interesting  study  to  consider  what  course 
a  modern  writer  would  have  pursued  in  the  execution  of  some 
particular  part  of  the  works  of  an  ancient  author.  In  the  fore 
going  picture,  for  instance,  there  is  every  reason  to  suspect  that 
the  scene,  instead  of  passing  in  action  between  Ulysses  and  Pe 
nelope,  would  have  been  described  in  the  narrative  form  by  the 
poet.  This  narration  would  have  been  interspersed  with  philoso 
phical  reflections,  brilliant  verses,  and  pretty  turns  of  expression. 
Instead  of  adopting  this  showy  and  laborious  manner,  Homer 
exhibits  to  you  a  pair  who  meet  again  after  an  absence  of  twenty 
years,  and  who,  without  uttering  any  vehement  exclamations, 
seem  as  if  they  had  parted  only  the  preceding  day.  Wherein, 
then,  consists  the  beauty  of  its  delineation  ?  In  its  truth. 


236  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


The  moderns  are,  in  general,  more  scientific,  more  delicate, 
more  acute,  and  frequently  even  more  interesting,  in  their  com 
positions  than  the  ancients.  The  latter,  on  the  other  hand,  are 
more  simple,  more  august,  more  tragic,  more  fertile,  and,  above 
all,  more  attentive  to  truth,  than  the  moderns.  They  have  a  better 
taste,  a  nobler  imagination  :  they  work  at  their  composition  as  a 
whole,  without  affectation  of  ornament.  A  shepherd  giving  way 
to  his  lamentations,  an  old  man  relating  a  story,  a  hero  fighting, 
are  sufficient  with  them  for  a  whole  poem;  and  we  are  puzzled  to 
tell  how  it  happens  that  this  poem,  which  contains  nothing,  is 
nevertheless  better  filled  than  our  novels  that  are  most  crowded 
with  incidents  and  characters.  The  art  of  writing  seems  to  have 
followed  the  art  of  painting :  the  pallet  of  the  modern  poet  is 
covered  with  an  infinite  variety  of  hues  and  tints ;  the  poet  of 
antiquity  composes  all  his  pieces  with  the  three  colors  of  Poly- 
gnotus.  The  Latins,  placed  between  the  Greeks  and  us,  partake 
of  both  manners ;  they  resemble  Greece  in  the  simplicity  of  the 
ground,  and  us  in  the  art  of  detail.  It  is  probably  this  happy 
combination  of  both  styles  that  renders  the  productions  of  Virgil 
so  enchanting. 

Let  us  now  turn  to  the  picture  of  the  loves  of  our  first  pa 
rents.  The  Adam  and  Eve  of  the  blind  bard  of  Albion  will 
form  an  excellent  match  for  the  Ulysses  and  Penelope  of  the 
blind  bard  of  Smyrna. 


CHAPTER  III. 

THE    HUSBAND    AND    WIFE,  (CONTINUED.) 

Adam  and  Eve. 

SATAN,  having  penetrated  into  the  terrestrial  paradise,  surveys 
the  animals  of  the  new  creation.     Among  these, 

Two  of  far  nobler  shape,  erect  and  tall, 

Godlike  erect,  with  native  honor  clad, 

In  naked  majesty  seemed  lords  of  all, 

And  worthy  seemed  :  for  in  their  looks  divine 

The  image  of  their  glorious  Maker  shone. 


ADAM   AND   EVE.  237 


Truth,  wisdom,  sanetitude  severe  and  pure, 
(Severe,  but  in  true  filial  freedom  placed,) 
Whence  true  authority  in  men  :  though  both 
Not  equal  as  their  sex  not  equal  seemed ; 
For  contemplation  he  and  valor  formed, 
For  softness  she,  and  sweet  attractive  grace; 
He  for  God  only,  she  for  God  in  him. 
His  fair  large  front  and  eye  sublime  declared 
*          Absolute  rule,  and  hyacinthine  locks 

Round  fronr.  his  parted  forelock  rnanly  hung 
Clustering,  but  not  beneath  his  shoulders  broad*. 
She  as  a  veil  down  to  the  slender  waist 
Her  unadorned  golden  tresses  wore 
Dishevelled,  but  in  wanton  ringlets  waved 
As  the  vine  curls  her  tendrils,  which  implied 
Subjection,  but  required  with  gentle  sway, 
And  by  her  yielded,  by  him  best  received, 
Yielded  with  coy  submission,  modest  pride, 
And  sweet  reluctant  amorous  delay. 
Nor  those  mysterious  parts  were  then  concealed  : 
Then  was  not  guilty  shame ;  dishonest  shame 
Of  Nature's  works,  honor  dishonorable, 
Sin-bred,  how  have  ye  troubled  all  mankind 
With  shows  instead,  mere  shows  of  seeming  pure, 
And  banished  from  man's  life  his  happiest  life, 
Simplicity  and  spotless  innocence  ! 
So  passed  they  naked  on,  nor  shunned  the  sight 
Of  God  or  angels,  for  they  thought  no  ill : 
So  hand-in-hand  they  passed,  the  loveliest  pair 
That  ever  since  in  love's  embraces  met; 
Adam  the  goodliest  man  of  men  since  born 
His  sons,  the  fairest  of  her  daughters  Eve.1 

Our  first  parents  retire  beneath  a  tuft  of  shade  ~by  a  fresh 
fountain's  side.  Here  they  take  their  evening  repast  amid  the 
animals  of  the  creation,  which  frisk  around  their  human  sove 
reigns.  Satan,  disguised  under  the  form  of  one  of  these  crea 
tures,  contemplates  the  happy  pair,  and  his  enmity  is  almost 
overcome  by  their  beauty,  their  innocence,  and  the  thoughts  of 
the  calamities  which  through  his  means  will  soon  succeed  such 
exquisite  felicity  —  a  truly  admirable  trait!  Meanwhile  Adam 
and  Eve  enter  into  sweet  converse  beside  the  fountain,  and  Eve 
thus  addresses  her  husband  : — 

That  day  I  oft  remember,  when  from  sleep 
I  first  awaked,  and  found  myself  reposed 

1  Paradise  Lost,  b.  iv. 


238  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


Under  a  shade  of  flowers,  much  wondering  where 

And  what  I  was,  whence  thither  brought  and  how. 

Not  distant  far  from  thence  a  munnuring  sound 

Of  waters  issued  from  a  cave,  and  spread 

Into  a  liquid  plain,  then  stood  unmoved 

Pure  as  the  expanse  of  Heaven  :  I  thither  went 

With  unexperienced  thought,  and  laid  me  down 

On  the  green  bank,  to  look  into  the  clear 

Smooth  lake,  that  to  me  seemed  another  sky. 

As  I  went  down  to  look,  just  opposite 

A  shape  within  the  watery  gleam  appeared, 

Bending  to  look  on  me :  I  started  back, 

It  started  back ;  but,  pleased,  I  soon  returned ; 

Pleased,  it  returned  as  soon,  with  answering  looka 

Of  sympathy  and  love.     There  had  I  fixed 

Mine  eyes  till  now,  and  pined  with  vain  desire, 

Had  nut  a  voice  thus  warned  me:  What  thou  seest. 

What  there  thou  seest,  fair  creature,  is  thyself. 

With  thee  it  comes  and  goes;  but  follow  me, 

And  I  will  bring  thee  where  no  shadow  stays 

Thy  coming,  and  thy  soft  embraces;  he 

Whose  image  thou  art,  him  thou  shalt  enjoy, 

Inseparably  thine;  to  him  shalt  bear 

Multitudes  like  thyself,  and  thence  be  called 

Mother  of  human  race.     What  could  I  do 

But  follow  straight,  invisibly  thus  led? 

Till  I  espied  thee,  fair,  indeed,  and  tall, 

Under  a  platan;  yet,  methought,  less  fair, 

Less  winning  soft,  less  amiably  mild, 

Than  that  smooth  watery  image.     Back  I  turned; 

Thou,  following,  criedst  aloud,  "Return,  fair  Eve; 

Whom  flyest  thou?  whom  thou  flyest,  of  him  thou  artj 

His  flesh,  his  bone.     To  give  thee  being,  I  lent 

Out  of  my  side  to  thee,  nearest  my  heart, 

Substantial  life,  to  have  thee  by  my  side 

Henceforth  an  individual  solace  dear. 

Part  of  my  soul,  I  seek  thee,  and  thee  claim, 

My  other  half."     With  that,  thy  gentle  hand 

Seized  mine;  I  yielded,  and  from  that  time  see 

How  beauty  is  excelled  by  minly  grace 

And  wisdom,  which  alone  is  truly  fair. 

So  spake  our  general  mother,  and  with  eyes 
Of  conjugal  attraction,  unreproved, 
And  meek  surrender,  half  embracing,  leaned 
On  our  first  father.     Half  her  swelling  breast 
Naked  met  his,  under  the  flowing  gold 
Of  her  loose  tresses  hid.     He,  in  delight 
Both  of  her  beauty  and  submissive  charms, 
Smiled  with  superior  love,  a?  Jupiter 


ADAM  AND  EVE.  239 


On  Juno  smiles  when  he  impregns  the  clouds 
That  shed  May  flowers,  and  pressed  her  matron  lip 
With  kisses  pure  ........ 

.....     The  sun  had  fallen 

Benenth  the  Azores.     Whether  the  prime  orb, 
Incredible  how  swift,  had  thither  rolled 
Diurnal,  or  this  less  volubil  earth, 
By  shorter  flight  to  the  east,  had  left  him  there, 
Arraying  with  reflected  purple  and  gold 
The  clouds  that  on  his  western  throne  attend. 
Now  came  still  evening  on,  and  twilight  gray 
Had  in  her  sober  livery  all  things  clad. 
Silence  accompanied:  for  beast  and  bird, 
They  to  their  grassy  couch,  these  to  their  nests, 
Were  slunk,  —  all  but  the  wakeful  nightingale; 
She  all  night  long  her  amorous  descant  sung. 
Silence  was  pleased.     Now  glowed  the  firmament 
With  living  sapphires.     Hesperus,  that  led 
The  starry  host,  rode  brightest  till  the  moon, 
Rising  in  clouded  majesty,  at  length, 
Apparent  queen,  unveiled  her  peerless  light, 
And  o'er  the  dark  her  silver  mantle  threw. 

Adam  and  Eve,  "having  offered  up  their  prayers  to  the  Almightj 
retire  to  the  nuptial  bower.  Proceeding  to  its  inmost  covert. 
they  lie  down  upon  a  bed  of  flowers.  The  poet,  remaining  as  it 
were  at  the  entrance,  entones  a  canticle  to  Hymen,  in  the  presence 
of  the  starry  host.  Without  preliminary,  and  as  by  an  impulse 
of  inspiration,  he  bursts  forth  into  this  magnificent  epithalamium, 
after  the  manner  of  the  ancients  :  — 

Hail  wedded  love,  mysterious  law,  true  source 
Of  human  offspring  - 

Thus,  after  Hector's  death,  does  the  Grecian  army  all  at  once 


E*ropa  6Tov. 
"We  have  gained  great  glory  !     We  have  slain  the  divine  Hector 

In  like  manner,  the  Salii,  celebrating  the  festival  of  Hercules,  in 
Virgil,  abruptly  shout  :  — 

Tu  nubigenas,  invicte,  bimembres,  <fcc. 
"Thy  arms,  unconquered  hero,  could  subdue 
The  cloud-born  Centaurs  and  the  monster  crew!" 

This  hymn  to  conjugal  fidelity  puts  the  finishing  stroke  to 


242  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

nelope  and  Ulysses  remind  us  of  past  troubles;  Adam  and  Eve 
point  to  impending  woes.  Every  drama  is  fundamentally  defect 
ive  that  represents  joys  without  any  mixture  of  sorrows  past  or 
sorrows  in  reserve.  We  are  tired  by  unalloyed  happiness  and 
shocked  by  absolute  misery.  The  former  is  destitute  of  recollec 
tions  and  of  tears,  the  latter  of  hope  and  of  smiles.  If  you 
ascend  from  pain  to  pleasure,  (as  in  the  scene  of  Homer,)  you 
will  be  more  pathetic,  more  melancholy,  because  the  soul  then 
looks  back  on  the  past  and  reposes  in  the  present.  If,  on  the 
contrary,  you  descend  from  prosperity  to  tears,  as  in  Milton's  im 
mortal  poem,  you  will  be  more  sad,  more  sensitive,  because  the 
heart  scarcely  pauses  on  the  present,  and  already  anticipates  the 
calamities  with  which  it  is  threatened.  We  ought,  therefore,  in 
our  pictures,  invariably  to  combine  felicity  and  adversity,  and  to 
make  the  pains  rather  more  than  counterbalance  the  pleasures,  aa 
in  nature.  Two  liquids,  the  one  sweet  and  the  other  bitter,  are 
mingled  together  in  the  cup  of  life;  but,  in  addition  to  the  bit 
terness  of  the  latter,  there  is  the  sediment  which  both  liquids 
alike  deposit  at  the  bottom  of  the  chalice. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

THE    FATHER. 

Priam. 

FROM  the  conjugal  character  let  us  proceed  to  that  of  the 
father.  Let  us  consider  paternity  in  the  most  sublime  and  affect 
ing  situations  of  life  —  old  age  and  misfortune.  Priam,  that 
monarch  whose  favor  was  sought  by  the  mighty  of  the  earth,  dum 
fortuna  fuit,  but  now  fallen  from  the  height  of  glory—  Priam, 
his  venerable  locks  sullied  with  ashes,  his  cheeks  bedewed  with 
tears,  his  penetrated  alone  at  midnight  into  the  camp  of  the 
Greeks.  Low  bowed  at  the  knees  of  the  merciless  Achilles,  kiss 
ing  those  terrible,  those  devouring1  hands  yet  reeking  with  the 
blood  of  his  sons,  he  humbly  begs  the  body  of  his  Hector:— 


Trorpof  OTIO, 


t/j,  men  -devouring.  2  Iliad,  b.  xxiv. 


PRIAM.  243 

'<  Remember  thy  father,  0  godlike  Achilles !  He  is  bowed  down 
with  years,  and,  like  me,  approaches  the  termination  of  his  career. 
Perhaps  at  this  very  moment  he  is  overwhelmed  by  powerful 
neighbors,  and  has  no  one  at  hand  to  defend  him ;  and  yet,  when 
he  is  informed  that  thou  livest,  he  rejoices  in  his  heart.  Each 
day  he  hopes  to  see  his  son  return  from  Troy.  But  I,  the  most 
unfortunate  of  fathers,  of  all  the  sons  that  I  numbered  in  spacious 
Ilion  scarcely  one  is  left  me.  I  had  fifty  when  the  Greeks  landed 
on  these  shores.  Nineteen  were  the  offspring  of  the  same  mother. 
Different  captives  bore  me  the  others.  Most  of  them  have  fallen 
beneath  the  strokes  of  cruel  Mars.  Yet  one  there  was  who  singly 
defended  his  brothers  and  the  walls  of  Troy.  Him  thou  hast 
slain,  fighting  for  his  country — Hector!  For  his  sake  I  have 
repaired  to  the  Grecian  fieet.  1  am  come  to  redeem  his  body, 
and  have  brought  thee  an  immense  ransom.  Respect  the  gods, 
0  Achilles !  Have  compassion  upon  me.  Remember  thy  father. 
Oh !  how  wretched  am  I !  No  mortal  was  ever  reduced  to  such 
excess  of  misery.  I  kiss  the  hands  that  have  killed  my  sons!" 

What  beauties  in  this  address !  what  a  scene  unfolded  to  the 
view  of  the  reader!  Night — the  tent  of  Achilles — that  hero, 
seated  beside  the  faithful  Automedon,  deploring  the  loss  of  Patro- 
clus — Priam  abruptly  appearing  amid  the  obscurity  and  throwing 
himself  at  the  feet  of  Pelides.  There  in  the  dark  stand  the  cars 
and  the  mules  which  have  brought  the  presents  of  the  venerable 
sovereign  of  Troy,  and  at  some  distance  the  mangled  remains 
of  the  generous  Hector  are  left  unhonored  on  the  shore  of  the 
Hellespont. 

Examine  Priam's  address:  you  will  find  that  the  second  word 
pronounced  by  the  unfortunate  monarch,  is  xarpos,  father ;  the 
second  thought  in  the  same  verse  is  a  panegyric  on  the  haughty 
chieftain,  foots  erreueA'  A^Uso,  godlike  Achilles.  Priam  must 
do  great  violence  to  his  feelings  to  speak  in  such  terms  to  the 
murderer  of  Hector.  All  these  traits  discover  a  profound  know 
ledge  of  the  human  heart. 

The  most  affecting  image  that  the  unfortunate  monarch  could 
present  to  the  violent  son  of  Peleus,  after  reminding  him  of  his 
father,  was,  without  doubt,  the  age  of  that  father.  So  far,  Priam 
has  not  ventured  to  utter  a  word  concerning  himself,  but  suddenly 
an  opportunity  occurs,  and  he  seizes  it  with  the  most  moving 


244  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

simplicity.  Like  me,  he  says,  he  approaches  the  termination  of  hf* 
career.  Thus  Priam  still  avoids  mentioning  himself  except  in 
conjunction  with  Peleus,  and  he  forces  Achilles  to  view  only  his 
own  father  in  the  person  of  a  suppliant  and  unfortunate  king. 
The  image  of  the  forlorn  situation  of  the  aged  monarch,  perhap* 
overwhelmed  by  powerful  neighbors  during  the  absence  of  his  son, 
— the  picture  of  his  affliction  suddenly  forgotten  when  he  learns 
that  his  son  is  full  of  life,— finally,  the  transient  sorrows  of  Peleus 
contrasted  with  the  irreparable  misfortunes  of  Priam, — all  this 
displays  an  admirable  mixture  of  grief,  address,  propriety,  and 
dignity. 

With  what  respectable  and  sacred  skill  does  the  venerable  sove 
reign  of  Ilium  afterward  lead  the  haughty  Achilles  to  listen, 
even  with  composure,  to  the  praise  of  Hector  himself !  At  first 
he  takes  care  not  to  name  the  Trojan  hero.  Yet  one  there  was, 
says  he,  without  mentioning  the  name  of  Hector  to  his  conqueror, 
till  he  has  told  him  that  by  his  hand  he  fell  while  fighting  for 
his  country! — 

Toy  ffv  Trpwqv  KTCivas,  dnvv6ptvov  Ttcpi  Trurprjj  : 

And  then  he  adds  the  single  word  "  Exropa,  Hector.  It  is  very 
remarkable  that  this  insulated  name  is  not  comprehended  in  the 
poetical  period;  it  is  introduced  at  the  commencement  of  a  verse, 
where  it  breaks  the  measure,  surprises  the  eye  and  ear,  forms  a 
complete  sense,  antl  is  wholly  unconnected  with  what  follows: — 

Ton  ai)  TTpwrjj'  ncmvaj,  dpvvdpcvov  irtpl  Tarp^j, 
"Eirropa. 

Thus  the  son  of  Peleus  is  reminded  of  his  vengeance  before  he 
recollects  his  enemy.  Had  Priam  named  Hector  first,  Achilles 
would  at  once  have  thought  of  Patroclus;  but  'tis  no  longer 
Hector  who  is  presented  to  his  view,  'tis  a  mangled  body,  a  dis 
figured  corpse,  consigned  to  the  dogs  and  vultures;  and  even  this 
is  not  shown  to  him  without  an  excuse — d/jtuvo/isvov  xsp}  rrfr^Tj? — 
he  fought  for  his  country.  The  pride  of  Achilles  is  gratified 
with  having  triumphed  over  one  who  had  alone  defended  his  bro 
thers  and  the  walls  of  Troy. 

Lastly,  Priam,  after  speaking  of  men  to  the  son  of  Thetis,  re 
minds  him  of  the  just  gods,  and  once  more  leads  him  back  to  the 
recollection  of  Peleus.  The  trait  which  concludes  the  address 
of  the  Trojan  monarch  is  most  sublimely  pathetic. 


LUSIGNAN.  245 


CHAPTER   V. 

CONTINUATION    OF   THE    FATHER. 

Lusignan. 

WE  shall  find  in  the  tragedy  of  Zara  a  father  to  contrast  with 
Priam.  The  two  scenes,  indeed,  cannot  be  compared,  either  in 
point  of  arrangement,  strength  of  design,  or  beauty  of  poetry; 
but  the  triumph  of  Christianity  will  on  that  account  be  only  the 
more  complete,  since  that  religion  is  enabled  by  the  charm  of  its 
recollections  singly  to  sustain  a  competition  with  the  mighty 
genius  of  Homer.  Voltaire  himself  does  not  deny  that  he  sought 
success  in  the  power  of  this  charm ;  since  he  thus  writes  in  allu 
sion  to  Zara: — "I  shall  endeavor  to  introduce  into  this  piece 
whatever  appears  most  pathetic  and  most  interesting  in  the  Chris 
tian  religion."1  This  venerable  Crusader,  covered  with  glory, 
and  bowed  down  with  misfortune,  steadfastly  adhering  to  his  reli 
gion  in  the  solitude  of  a  dungeon, — this  Lusignan  imploring  a 
young  enamored  female  to  hearken  to  the  voice  of  the  God  of  her 
fathers, — presents  a  striking  scene,  the  force  of  which  lies  entirely 
in  its  evangelical  morality  and  Christian  sentiments. 

For  thee,  0  God,  and  in  thy  glorious  cause, 
These  threescore  years  old  Lusignan  hath  fought, 
But  fought  in  vain;  hath  seen  thy  temple  fall, 
Thy  goodness  spurned,  thy  sacred  right  profaned. 
For  twenty  summers  in  a  dungeon  hid, 
With  tears  have  I  implored  thee  to  protect 
My  children ;  thou  hast  given  them  to  my  wishes 
And  in  my  d  lughter  now  I  find  thy  foe. 
I  am  myself,  alas !  the  fatal  cause 
Of  thy  lost  faith ;  had  I  not  been  a  slave     ... 
But,  0  my  daughter!  thou  dear,  lovely  object 
Of  all  my  cares,  0  think  on  the  pure  blood 
Within  thy  veins,— the  blood  of  twenty  kings, 
All  Christians  like  myself,  the  blood  of  heroes, 
Defenders  of  the  faith,  the  blood  of  martyrs. 


(Euvr.  CompUt.  de  Volt.,  tome  78 ;   Corresp.  gen.,  Lett.  57,  p.  1 19  ;  edit.  1785. 
21* 


246  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Thou  art  a  stranger  to  thy  mother's  fate  ; 

Thou  dost  not  know  that,  in  the  very  moment 

She  gave  thee  birth,  I  saw  her  massacred 

By  those  barbarians  whose  detested  faith 

Thou  hast  embraced :  thy  brothers,  the  dear  martyrs, 

Stretch  forth  their  hands  from  heaven,  and  wish  to  embrace 

A  sister:  0  remember  them  !     That  God 

Whom  thou  betrayest,  for  us  and  for  mankind 

Even  in  this  place  expired;   where  I  so  oft 

Have  fought  for  him,  where  now  his  blood  by  me 

Calls  loudly  on  thee.     See  yon  temple,  see 

These  walls:  behold  the  sacred  mountain  where 

Thy  Saviour  bled;  the  tomb  whence  he  arose 

Victorious;  in  each  path,  where'er  thou  tread'st 

Shalt  thou  behold  the  footsteps  of  thy  God. 

Wilt  thou  renounce  thy  honor  and  thy  father? 

Wilt  thou  renounce  thy  Maker?1 

A  religion  which  furnishes  its  enemy  with  such  beauties  de 
serves  at  least  to  be  heard  before  it  be  condemned.  Antiquity 
affords  nothing  so  interesting,  because  it  had  not  such  a  religion. 
Polytheism,  laying  no  restraint  upon  the  passions,  could  not  oc 
casion  those  inward  conflicts  of  the  soul  which  are  so  common 
under  the  gospel  dispensation,  and  produce  the  most  affecting 
situations.  The  pathetic  character  of  Christianity  also  strongly 
tends  to  heighten  the  charms  of  Zara.  Were  Lusignan  to  remind 
his  daughter  of  nothing  but  the  happy  deities,  the  banquets  and 
the  joys  of  Olympus,  all  this  would  have  but  a  very  slight  interest 
for  her,  and  would  only  form  a  harsh  contradiction  to  the  tender 
emotions  which  the  poet  aims  to  excite.  But  the  misfortunes  of 
Lusignan,  his  blood,  his  sufferings,  are  blended  with  the  misfor 
tunes,  the  blood,  and  the  sufferings,  of  Jesus  Christ.  Could 
Zara  deny  her  Redeemer  on  the  very  spot  where  he  gave  himself 
a  sacrifice  for  her?  The  cause  of  a  father  and  the  cause  of  God 
are  mingled  together;  the  venerable  age  of  Lusignan  and  the 
blood  of  the  martyrs  exert  the  authority  of  religion;  the  moun 
tain  and  the  tomb  both  cry  out.  The  place,  the  man,  the  divinity, — 
every  thing  is  tragic  in  this  picture. 

1  Voltaire's  Dramatic  Works,  translated  by  Franklin,  vol.  v.  p.  36-3  *. 


ANDROMACHE.  247 


CHAPTER  VI. 

THE    MOTHER. 

Andromache. 

"  A  VOICE  was  heard  on  high,"  says  Jeremias,1  "cf  lamenta 
tion,  of  mourning,  and  weeping,  of  Rachel  weeping  for  her 
children,  and  refusing  to  be  comforted  because  they  are  not." 
How  beautiful  is  this  expression — because  they  are  not!  It- 
breathes  all  the  tenderness  of  the  mother.3  Most  assuredly,  the 
religion  which  has  consecrated  such  an  expression  must  be 
thoroughly  acquainted  with  the  maternal  heart. 

Our  veneration  for  the  Virgin  Mary,  and  the  love  of  Jesus 
Christ  for  children,  likewise  prove  that  the  spirit  of  Christianity 
has  a  tender  sympathy  with  the  character  of  mother.  We  here 
propose  to  open  a  new  path  for  criticism,  by  seeking  in  the  senti 
ments  of  a  pagan  mother,  delineated  by  a  modern  author,  those 
Christian  traits  which  that  author  may  have  introduced  into  his 
picture  without  being  aware  of  it  himself.  In  order  to  demon 
strate  the  influence  of  a  moral  or  religious  institution  on  the  heart 
of  man,  it  is  not  necessary  that  the  instance  adduced  for  this  pur 
pose  should  be  selected  from  the  more  visible  effects  of  that 
institution.  'Tis  sufficient  if  it  breathe  its  spirit;  and  thus  it  is 
that  the  Elysium  of  Telemachus  is  evidently  a  Christian  paradise. 

Now  the  most  affecting  sentiments  of  Racine's  Andromache 
emanate  for  the  most  part  from  a  Christian  poet.  The  Andro 
mache  of  the  Iliad  is  the  wife  rather  than  the  mother;  that  of 
Euripides  is  of  a  disposition  at  once  servile  and  ambitious,  which 
destroys  the  maternal  character;  that  of  Virgil  is  tender  and 
melancholy,  but  has  less  of  the  mother  than  of  the  wife :  the 
widow  of  Hector  says  not,  Astyanax  ubi  est,  but  Hector  ubi  est. 

1  Jer.  xxxi.  15. 

-  We  know  not  why  Sacy,  in  his  French  translation,  has  rendered  Rama,  by 
Rama,  a  town.  The  Hebrew  Rama  (whence  comes  the  pa<5a/^o?  of  the  Greeks) 
is  applied  to  a  branch  of  a  tree,  an  arm  of  the  sea,  a  chain  of  mountains.  The 
latter  is  the  signification  of  the  Hebrew  in  this  place,  and  the  Vulgate,  as  seen 
in  the  context,  has  vox  in  excelso. 


248  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Racine's  Andromache  has  greater  sensibility,  is  more  interest- 
ing  in  every  respect,  than  the  ancient  Andromache.  That  verse 
which  is  so  simple,  yet  so  full  of  love,  — 

Je  ne  1'ai  point  encore  embrasse  d'aujourd'hui, 
I've  not  yet  kissed  my  child  to-day,— 

is  the  language  of  a  Christian  mother,  and  is  not  in  accordance 
with  the  Grecian  taste,  still  less  that  of  the  Romans. 

Homer's  Andromache  deplores  the  future  misery  of  Astyanax, 
but  scarcely  bestows  a  thought  on  his  present  condition.  The 
mother,  under  the  Christian  dispensation,  more  tender  without 
being  less  provident,  sometimes  forgets  her  sorrows  while  em 
bracing  her  son.  The  ancients  bestowed  upon  infancy  no  great 
portion  of  their  attention  ;  they  seem  to  have  considered  swad 
dling-clothes  and  a  cradle  as  too  simple  for  their  notice.  The 
God  of  the  gospel  alone  was  not  ashamed  to  speak  of  the  little 
children,1  and  to  hold  them  up  as  an  example  to  men.  "And, 
taking  a  child,  he  set  him  in  the  midst  of  them.  Whom  when 
he  had  embraced,  he  saith  unto  them  :  Whosoever  shall  receive 
one  such  child  in  my  name,  receiveth  me."3 

When  Hector's  widow  says  to  Cephisus,  in  Racine,  — 

Qu'il  ait  de  ses  aieux  un  souvenir  modeste  ; 
II  est  du  sang  d'Hector,  mais  il  en  est  le  reste. 
Teach  him  with  modesty  to  bear  in  mind 
His  great  forefathers  :  he's  of  Hector's  blood, 
But  all  of  Hector's  self  that  now  survives  ;  — 

who  does  not  perceive  the  Christian  ?  'Tis  the  deposuit  potentes 
de  sede  —  "  He  hath  put  down  the  mighty  from  their  seat."  An 
tiquity  never  speaks  in  this  manner,  for  it  imitates  no  sentiments 
but  those  of  nature  ;  but  the  sentiments  expressed  in  these  verses 
of  Racine  are  not  derived  purely  from  nature  ;  so  far  from  this, 
they  contradict  the  voice  of  the  heart.  Hector,  in  the  Iliad, 
exhorts  not  his  son  to  retain  a  modest  remembrance  of  his  fore 
fathers.  Holding  up  Astyanax  toward  heaven,  he  exclaims  : 

Zcv  a\\oi  re  Qeol,  Sore  fa  xdi  r6v6e  ycvcaOai, 
n<u<5  Cfidv,  w{  KOI  eyo>  irep,  aptirpe^ea  Tpiocaaiv, 
SL5e  fiirjv,  T   ayaSov,  KOI  'lAtou  itpi  dvaoociv. 
Kat  TTOTE  rij  eiTnjffi,  llarpog  6'  oyt  TroAAw 
dvi6vra. 


Matt,  xviii.  3.  2  Mark  ix.  36-37. 


ANDROMACHE.  249 


0  thou !  whose  glory  fills  th'  ethereal  throne, 
And  all  ye  deathless  powers,  protect  my  son ! 
Grant  him,  like  me,  to  purchase  just  renown, 
To  guard  the  Trojans,  to  defend  the  crown, 
Against  his  country's  foes  the  war  to  wage, 
And  rise  the  Hector  of  the  future  age ! 
So,  when  triumphant  from  successful  toils 
Of  heroes  slain  he  bears  the  reeking  spoils, 
Whole  hosts  may  hail  him  with  deserved  acclaim, 
I  And  say,  This  chief  transcends  his  father's  fame.1 

J&ue-as  says  to  ^iscanius  : — 

Et  te  aiiimo  repetentem  exempla  tuorum, 
Et  pater  ^Eneas,  et  avunculus  excitet  Hector. 

Thou,  when  thy  riper  years  shall  send  thee  forth 
To  toils  of  war,  be  mindful  of  my  worth : 
Assert  thy  birthright,  and  in  arms  be  known 
For  Hector's  nephew,  and  ^Eneas'  son.2 

The  modern  Andromache,  indeed,  expresses  herself  nearly  in 
the  same  manner  respecting  the  ancestors  of  Astyanax.  But 
after  this  line, 

Tell  by  what  feats  they  dignified  their  names, 

she  adds, 

Tell  what  they  did,  rather  than  what  they  were. 

Now,  such  precepts  are  in  direct  opposition  to  the  suggestions 
of  pride.  We  here  behold  amended  nature — improved  evangelical 
nature.  This  humility,  which  the  Christian  religion  has  intro 
duced  into  the  sentiments,  and  which,  as  we  shall  presently  have 
occasion  to  observe,  has  changed  the  relation  of  the  passions,  runs 
through  the  whole  character  of  the  modern  Andromache.  When 
Hector's  widow,  in  the  Iliad,  figures  to  herself  the  destiny  that 
awaits  her  son,  there  is  something  mean  in  the  picture  which  she 
draws  of  his  future  wretchedness.  Humility  in  our  religion  speaks 
no  such  language ;  it  is  not  less  dignified  than  affecting.  The 
Christian  submits  to  the  severest  vicissitudes  of  life ;  but  his 
resignation  evidently  springs  from  a  principle  of  virtue,  for  he 
abases  himself  under  the  hand  of  God  alone,  and  not  under  the 
hand  of  man.  In  fetters  he  retains  his  dignity;  with  a  fidelity 
unmixed  with  fear,  he  despises  the  chains  which  he  is  to  ^ear  but 
for  a  moment,  and  from  which  Providence  will  soon  release  him; 

1  Iliad,  b.  vi.,  Pope's  translation.          2  ^Eneid,  b.  xii.,  Dryden's  translation. 


250  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

he  looks  upon  the  things  of  this  life  as  naught  but  dreams,  and 
endures  his  condition  without  repining,  because  there  is  little  dif 
erence  in  his  eyes  between  liberty  and  servitude,  prosperity  and 
adversity,  the  diadem  of  the  monarch  and  the  livery  of  the  slave. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

THE    SON. 

Gusmctn. 

THE  dramatic  works  of  Voltaire  furnish  us  with  the  example 
of  another  Christian  character— the  character  of  the  son.  This 
is  neither  the  docile  Telemachus  with  Ulysses,  nor  the  fiery 
Achilles  with  Peleus ;  it  is  a  young  man  with  strong  passions, 
but  who  combats  and  subdues  them  by  religion. 

There  is  something  very  attractive  in  the  tragedy  of  Alzire, 
though  consistency  of  manners  is  not  much  observed.  You  here 
soar  into  those  lovely  regions  of  Christian  morality,  which,  rising 
far  above  the  morality  of  the  vulgar,  is  of  itself  a  divine  poetry. 
The  peace  that  reigns  in  the  bosom  of  Alvarez  is  not  the  mere 
peace  of  nature.  Let  us  figure  to  ourselves  Nestor  striving  to 
moderate  the  passions  of  Antilochus.  He  would  adduce  examples 
of  young  men  who  have  been  undone  because  they  would  not 
listen  to  the  counsels  of  their  parents ;  then,  following  up  these 
examples  with  a  few  trite  maxims  on  the  indocility  of  youth  and 
the  experience  of  age,  he  would  crown  his  remonstrances  with  a 
panegyric  on  himself,  and  look  back  with  regret  on  the  days  that 
are  past. 

The  authority  employed  by  Alvarez  is  of  a  very  different  kind. 
He  makes  no  mention  of  his  age  and  his  paternal  authority,  that 
he  may  speak  in  the  name  of  religion  alone.  He  seeks  not  to 
dissuade  Gusman  from  the  commission  of  a  particular  crime ; 
he  preaches  to  him  a  general  virtue,  charity, — a  kind  of  celestial 
humanity  which  the  Son  of  man  brought  down  with  him  to 
earth,  where  it  was  a  stranger  before  his  coming.1  Finally, 

1  The  ancients  themselves  owed  to  their  religion  the  little  humanity  that  is  to 
be  found  among  them.  Hospitality,  respect  lor  the  suppliant  and  the  unf'or- 


GUSMAN.  251 

Alvarez  commanding  his  son  as  a  father,  and  obeying  him  as  a 
subject,  is  one  of  those  traits  of  exalted  morality  as  far  superior 
to  the  morality  of  the  ancients  as  the  gospel  surpasses  the  dia 
logues  of  Plato  for  the  inculcation  of  the  virtues. 

Achilles  mangles  the  body  of  his  enemy  and  insults  him  when 
vanquished.  Grusman  is  as  proud  as  that  hero;  but,  sinking 
beneath  Zamor's  dagger,  expiring  in  the  flower  of  youth,  cut  off 
at  once  from  an  adored  wife  and  the  command  of  a  mighty  em 
pire,  hear  the  sentence  which  he  pronounces  upon  his  rival  and 
his  murderer !  behold  the  admirable  triumph  of  religion  and  of 
paternal  example  over  a  Christian  son  ! — 

[To  Alvarez.]  My  soul  is  on  the  wing, 

And  here  she  takes  her  flight,  but  waits  to  see 
And  imitate  Alvarez.    0  my  father ! 
The  mask  is  off;  death  has  at  last  unveiled 
The  hideous  scene,  and  shown  me  to  myself; 
New  light  breaks  in  on  my  astonished  soul : 
Oh !  I  have  been  a  proud,  ungrateful  being, 
And  trampled  on  my  fellow-creatures !     Heaven 
Avenges  earth  :  my  life  can  ne'er  atone 
For  half  the  blood  I've  shed.     Prosperity 
Had  blinded  Gusman  ;  death's  benignant  hand 
Restores  my  sight;  I  thank  the  instrument 
Employed  by  heaven  to  make  me  what  I  am,— 
A  penitent.     I  yet  am  master  here, 
And  yet  can  pardon:  Zamor,  I  forgive  thee; 
Live  and  be  free,  but  oh  !  remember  how 
A  Christian  acted,  how  a  Christian  died. 

[To  Montezuma,  who  kneels  to  him.] 

Thou,  Montezuma,  and  ye  hapless  victims 

Of  my  ambition,  say,  my  clemency 

Surpassed  my  guilt,  and  let  your  sovereigns  know 

That  we  were  born  your  conquerors. 

[To  Zamor.] 

Observe  the  difference  'twixt  thy  gcds  and  mine; 
Thine  teach  thee  to  revenge  an  injury, 
Mine  bids  me  pity  and  forgive  thee,  Zamor.1 

To  what  religion  belongs  this  morality  and  this  death  ?  Here 
reigns  an  ideal  of  truth  superior  to  every  poetic  ideal.  When  we 

tunate,  were  the  offspring  of  religious  ideas.  That  the  wretche^vrf{)h*i-^ncl 
.some  pity  upon  earth,  it  was  necessary  that  Jupiter  should  decl'r  of  "Roui1ae'r 
protector.  Such  is  the  ferocity  of  man  without  religion  ! 

:  Voltaire's  Works,  translated  by  Franklin,  vol.  vi.  pp.  260,  261. 


S 


252  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

say  an  ideal  of  truth,  it  is  no  exaggeration;  every  reader  knows 
that  the  concluding  verses — 

Observe  the  difference  'twixt  thy  gods  and  mine,  Ac.— 

are  the  very  expressions  of  Fran9ois  de  Guise.1  As  for  the  rest 
of  this  passage,  it  comprehends  the  whole  substance  of  the  mo 
rality  of  the  gospel :  — 

Death  has  at  last  unveiled 

The  hideous  scene,  and  shown  me  to  myself.  .  .  . 

Oh!  I  have  been  a  proud,  ungrateful  being, 

And  trampled  on  my  fellow-creatures ! 

One  trait  alone  in  this  piece  has  not  the  stamp  of  Christianity 

It  is  this  : — 

Let  your  sovereigns  know 
That  we  were  born  your  conquerors. 

Here  Voltaire  meant  to  make  nature  and  Gusman's  haughty 
character  burst  forth  again.  The  dramatic  intention  is  happy, 
but,  taken  as  an  abstract  beauty,  the  idea  expressed  in  these  lines 
is  very  low  amid  the  lofty  sentiments  with  which  it  is  surrounded. 
Such  is  invariably  the  appearance  of  mere  nature  by  the  side  of 
Christian  nature.  Voltaire  is  very  ungrateful  for  calumniating 
that  religion  which  furnished  him  with  such  pathetic  scenes  and 
with  his  fairest  claims  to  immortality.  He  ought  constantly  tc 
have  borne  in  mind  these  lines,  composed,  no  doubt,  under  an 
involuntary  impulse  of  admiration  : — 

Can  Christians  boast 
Of  such  exalted  virtue  ?  'twas  inspired 
By  heaven.     The  Christian  law  must  be  divine. 

Can  they,  we  may  add,  boast  of  so  much  genius,  of  so  many 
poetic  beauties  f 

1  It  is  not  so  generally  known  that  Voltaire,  in  making  use  of  the  expres 
sion  of  Francois  de  Guise,  has  borrowed  the  words  from  another  poet.  Rowe 
had  previously  availed  himself  of  this  incident  in  his  Tamerlane,  and  the  author 
of  Alzira  has  been  content  to  translate  the  passage  verbatim  from  the  English 
dramatist : 

Now  learn  the  difference  'twixt  thy  faith  and  mine.  .  .  . 
Thine  bids  thee  lift  thy  dagger  to  my  throat; 
jhifV j  jijffinft  can  forgive  the  wrong,  and  bid  thee  live. 

~ ' 

-ancients  *'• 
f 

\ 


IPHIGENIA  AND   ZARA.  253 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

THE   DAUGHTER. 

Iphigenia   and   Zara. 

4 

FOR  the  character  of  the  Daughter,  Iphigenia  and  Zara  will 
supply  us  with  an  interesting  parallel.  Both,  under  the  constraint 
of  paternal  authority,  devote  themselves  to  the  religion  of  their 
country.  Agamemnon,  it  is  true,  requires  of  Iphigenia  the  two 
fold  sacrifice  of  her  love  and  of  her  life,  and  Lusignan  requires 
Zara  to  forget  the  former  alone ;  but  for  a  female  passionately  in 
love  to  live  and  renounce  the  object  of  her  affections  is  perhaps 
a  harder  task  than  to  submit  to  death  itself.  The  two  situations, 
therefore,  may  possess  nearly  an  equal  degree  of  natural  interest. 
Let  us  see  whether  they  are  the  same  in  regard  to  religious  in 
terest. 

Agamemnon,  in  paying  obedience  to  the  gods,  does  no  more, 
after  all,  than  immolate  his  daughter  to  his  ambition.  Why 
should  the  Greek  virgin  bow  submissive  to  Jupiter?  Is  he  not 
a  tyrant  whom  she  must  detest?  The  spectator  sides  with  Iphi 
genia  against  Heaven.  Pity  and  terror,  therefore,  spring  solely 
from  natural  considerations;  and  if  you  could  retrench  religion 
from  the  piece,  it  is  evident  that  the  theatrical  effect  would  re 
main  the  same. 

In  Zara,  on  the  contrary,  if  you  meddle  with  the  religion  you 
destroy  the  whole.  Jesus  Christ  is  not  bloodthirsty.  He  re 
quires  no  more  than  the  sacrifice  of  a  passion.  Has  he  a  right 
tc  demand  this  sacrifice  ?  Ah !  who  can  doubt  it  ?  Was  it  not 
to  redeem  Zara  that  he  was  nailed  to  the  cross,  that  he  endured 
insult,  scorn,  and  the  injustice  of  men,  that  he  drank  the  cup  of 
bitterness  to  the  very  dregs?  Yet  was  Zara  about  to  give  her 
heart  and  her  hand  to  those  who  persecuted  this  God  of  charity ! 
— tc  those  who  daily  sacrificed  the  professors  of  his  religion ! — to 
those  who  detained  in  fetters  that  venerable  successor  of  Bouillon, 
— that  defen  ier  of  the  faith,  the  father  of  Zara  !  Certainly  reli- 
22 


254  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

gion  is  not  useless  here,  and  he  who  would  suppress  that  would 
annihilate  the  piece. 

Zara,  as  a  tragedy,  is,  in  our  opinion,  more  interesting  than 
Iphigenia,  for  a  reason  which  we  shall  endeavor  to  explain.  This 
obliges  us  to  recur  to  the  principles  of  the  art. 

It  is  certain  that  the  characters  of  tragedy  ought  to  be  taken 
from  the  upper  ranks  alone  of  society.  This  rule  is  the  result  of 
certain  proprieties  which  are  known  to  the  fine  arts  as  well  as  to 
the  human  heart,  The  picture  of  the  sorrows  which  we  ourselves 
experience  pains  without  interesting  or  instructing  us  We 
need  not  go  to  the  theatre  to  learn  the  secrets  of  our  own  family. 
Can  fiction  please  us  when  sad  reality  dwells  beneath  our  roof? 
No  moral  is  attached  to  such  an  imitation.  On  the  contrary, 
when  we  behold  the  picture  of  our  condition,  we  sink  into 
despair,  or  we  envy  a  state  that  is  not  our  own,  and  in  which  we 
imagine  that  happiness  exclusively  resides.  Take  the  lower  classes 
to  the  theatre.  They  seek  not  there  men  of  straw  or  repre 
sentations  of  their  own  indigence,  but  persons  of  distinguished 
rank,  invested  with  the  purple.  Their  ears  would  fain  be  filled 
with  illustrious  names,  and  their  eyes  engaged  with  the  misfor 
tunes  of  kings. 

Morality,  curiosity,  the  dignity  of  art,  refined  taste,  and  perhaps 
nature,  envious  of  man,  impose  the  necessity,  therefore,  of  select 
ing  the  characters  for  tragedy  from  the  more  elevated  ranks  of 
society.  But,  though  the  person  should  be  distinguished,  his 
distresses  ought  to  be  common;  that  is  to  say,  of  such  a  nature 
as  to  be  felt  by  all.  Now  it  is  in  this  point  that  Zara  seems  to 
us  more  affecting  than  Iphigenia. 

When  the  daughter  of  Agamemnon  is  doomed  to  die  to  facili 
tate  the  departure  of  a  fleet,  the  spectator  can  scarcely  feel  inte 
rested  by  such  a  motive;  but  in  Zara  the  reason  is  brought  home 
to  the  heart,  and  every  one  can  appreciate  the  struggle  between 
a  passion  and  a  duty.  Hence  is  derived  that  grand  rule  of  the 
drama,  that  the  interest  of  tragedy  must  be  founded,  not  upon  a 
thing,  but  upon  a  sentiment,  and  that  the  character  should  be 
remote  from  the  spectator  by  his  rank,  but  near  to  him  by  his 
misfortune. 

We  might  now  examine  the  subject  of  Iphigenia,  as  it  has  been 
handled  by  the  Christian  pen  of  Racine;  but  the  reader  can 


IPHIGENIA   AND   ZARA.  255 


pursue  this  consideration  at  his  discretion.  We  shall  make  only 
one  observation. 

Father  Brumoy  remarks  that  Euripides,  in  ascribing  to  Iphi- 
genia  a  horror  of  death  and  a  desire  to  escape  it,  has  adhered 
more  closely  to  nature  than  Racine,  whose  Iphigenia  seems  too 
resigned.  The  observation  is  good  in  itself,  but  Brumoy  over 
looked  the  circumstance  that  the  modern  Iphigenia  is  the  Chris 
tian  daughter.  Her  father  and  Heaven  have  commanded,  and 
nothing  now  remains  but  to  obey.  Racine  has  given  this  courage 
to  his  heroine  merely  from  the  secret  influence  of  a  religious  in 
stitution,  which  has  changed  the  groundwork  of  ideas  and  of 
morals.  Here  Christianity  goes  farther  than  nature,  and  conse 
quently  harmonizes  better  with  poetry,  which  aggrandizes  objects 
and  is  fond  of  exaggeration.  The  daughter  of  Agamemnon 
banishing  her  fears  and  attachment  to  life  is  a  much  more  inte 
resting  character  than  Iphigenia  deploring  her  fate.  We  are  not 
affected  only  by  what  is  natural.  The  fear  of  death  is  natural  to 
man;  yet  he  who  laments  his  own  approaching  death  excites  no 
great  compassion  around  him.  The  human  heart  desires  more 
than  it  accomplishes.  It  is  chiefly  prone  to  admiration,  and  feels 
a  secret  impetus  toward  that  unknown  beauty  for  which  it  was 
originally  formed. 

Such  is  the  constitution  of  the  Christian  religion  that  it  is  it 
self  a  kind  of  poetry,  viewing,  as  it  does,  every  character  in  its 
beau-ideal.  Witness,  for  instance,  the  representation  of  martyrs 
by  our  painters,  of  knights  by  our  poets,  &c.  The  portraiture  of 
vice  is  susceptible  of  as  much  strength  and  vividness  from  the 
Christian  pen  as  that  of  virtue;  because  the  heinousness  of  crime 
is  in  proportion  to  the  number  of  bonds  which  the  guilty  man  has 
broken  asunder.  The  Muses,  therefore,  who  are  averse  to  medio 
crity,  find  ample  resources  in  that  religion  which  always  exhibits 
its  characters  above  or  below  the  ordinary  standard  of  humanity. 

To  complete  the  circle  of  the  natural  characters,  we  should 
treat  of  fraternal  affection ;  but  all  that  we  have  said  concerning 
the  son  and  the  daughter  is  equally  applicable  to  two  brothers, 
or  to  brother  and  sister.  For  the  rest,  we  find  in  the  Bible  the 
history  of  Cain  and  Abel,  the  great  and  first  tragedy  that  the 
world  beheld ;  and  we  shall  speak  in  another  place  of  Joseph  and 
ms  brethren. 


256  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Finally,  the  Christian  religion,  while  it  deprives  the  poet  of 
none  of  the  advantages  enjoyed  by  antiquity  for  the  delineation 
of  the  natural  characters,  offers  him,  in  addition,  all  its  influence 
in  those  same  characters,  necessarily  augments  his  power  by  in 
creasing  his  means,  and  multiplies  the  beauties  of  the  drama  by 
multiplying  the  sources  from  which  they  spring. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

SOCIAL    CHARACTERS. 
The    Priest. 

THOSE  characters  which  we  have  denominated  social  are  re 
duced  by  the  poet  to  two — the  priest  and  the  soldier.  Had  we 
not  set  apart  the  fourth  division  of  our  work  for  the  history  of 
the  clergy  and  the  benefits  which  they  confer,  it  would  be  an  easy 
task  to  show  here  how  far  superior,  in  point  of  variety  and  gran 
deur,  is  the  character  of  the  Christian  priest  to  that  of  the  priest 
of  polytheism.  What  exquisite  pictures  might  be  drawn,  from 
the  pastor  of  the  rustic  hamlet  to  the  pontiff  whose  brows  are  en 
circled  with  the  papal  tiara ;  from  the  parish  priest  of  the  city  to 
the  anchoret  of  the  rock ;  from  the  Carthusian  and  the  inmate  of 
La  Trappe  to  the  learned  Benedictine;  from  the  missionary,  and 
the  multitude  of  religious  devoted  to  the  alleviation  of  all  the  ills 
that  afflict  humanity,  to  the  inspired  prophet  of  ancient  Sion ! 
The  order  of  virgins  is  not  less  varied  or  numerous,  nor  less  varied 
in  its  pursuits.  Those  daughters  of  charity  who  consecrate  their 
youth  and  their  charms  to  the  service  of  the  afflicted, — those  inha 
bitants  of  the  cloister  who,  under  the  protection  of  the  altar,  edu 
cate  the  future  wives  of  men,  while  they  congratulate  themselves 
on  their  own  union  with  a  heavenly  spouse, — this  whole  inno 
cent  family  is  in  admirable  correspondence  with  the  nine  sisters 
of  fable.  Antiquity  presented  nothing  more  to  the  poet  than  a 
high-priest,  a  sorcerer,  a  vestal,  a  sibyl.  These  characters,  more- 


VIRGIL   AND    RACINE   COMPARED.  257 


over,  were  but  accidentally  introduced;  whereas  the  Christian  priest 
is  calculated  to  act  one  of  the  most  important  parts  in  the  epic. 

M.  de  la  Harpe  has  shown  in  his  Melanie  what  effects  may  be 
produced  with  the  character  of  a  village  curate  when  delineated 
by  an  able  hand.  Shakspeare,  Richardson,  Goldsmith,  have 
brought  the  priest  upon  the  stage  with  more  or  less  felicity.  As 
to  external  pomp,  what  religion  was  ever  accompanied  with  cere 
monies  so  magnificent  as  ours?  Corpus  Christi  day,  Christmas, 
Holy-week,  Easter,  All-souls,  the  funeral  ceremony,  the  Mass,  and 
a  thousand  other  rites,  furnish  an  inexhaustible  subject  for  splen 
did  or  pathetic  descriptions.1  The  modern  muse  that  complains 
of  Christianity  cannot  certainly  be  acquainted  with  its  riches. 
Tasso  has  described  a  procession  in  the  Jerusalem,  and  it  is  one 
of  the  finest  passages  in  his  poem.  In  short,  the  ancient  sacrifice 
itself  is  not  banished  from  the  Christian  subject;  for  nothing  is 
more  easy  than,  by  means  of  an  episode,  a  comparison,  or  a  retro 
spective  view,  to  introduce  a  sacrifice  of  the  ancient  covenant. 


CHAPTER  X. 

CONTINUATION    OF   THE    PRIEST. 
The  Sibyl  —  Joiada  —  Parallel  between  Virgil  and  Racine. 


goes  to  consult  the  Sibyl.  Having  reached  the  aper 
ture  of  the  cavern,  he  awaits  the  awful  words  of  the  prophetess. 
He  soothes  her  with  a  prayer.  The  Sibyl  still  struggles.  At 
length  the  god  overpowers  her.  The  hundred  doors  of  the  cavern 
open  with  a  tremendous  noise,  and  these  words  float  in  the  air  : 
"  Oh  thou  who  hast  at  last  completed  thy  mighty  dangers  upon 
the  ocean  !" 

What  vehemence,  when  the  god  begins  to  agitate  the  Sibyl  ! 
Take  notice  of  the  rapidity  of  these  turns  :  Deus  !  ecce  Deus  ! 
She  touches  —  ste  grapples  with  —  the  spirit.  The  God!  behold 

1  We  shall  treat  of  all  these  ceremonies  in  another  part  of  our  work. 
22*  R 


258  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

the  God!  is  her  exclamation.  These  expressions — non  vultus, 
non  color  unus — admirably  delineate  the  agitation  of  the  pro 
phetess.  Virgil  is  remarkable  for  his  negative  turns  of  expres 
sion  ;  and  it  may  be  observed  in  general  that  they  are  very  nu 
merous  in  writers  of  a  pensive  genius.  May  it  not  be  that  souls 
endowed  with  the  finer  sensibilities  are  naturally  inclined  to  com 
plain,  to  desire,  to  doubt,  to  express  themselves  with  a  kind  of 
timidity;  and  that  complaint,  desire,  doubt,  and  timidity,  are  pri 
vations  of  something?  The  feeling  mind  does  not  positively  say, 
lam  familiar  with  adversity;  but  characterizes  itself,  like  Dido, 
as  non  iynara  mali,  not  unacquainted  with  evil.  In  short,  the  fa 
vorite  images  of  the  pensive  poets  are  almost  always  borrowed 
from  negative  objects,  as  the  silence  of  night,  the  shade  of  the 
forests,  the  solitude  of  the  mountains,  the  peace  of  the  tombs, 
which  are  nothing  but  the  absence  of  noise,  of  light,  of  men,  and 
of  the  tumults  and  storms  of  life.1 

However  exquisite  the  beauty  of  Virgil's  verse  may  be,  Chris 
tian  poetry  exhibits  something  superior.  The  high-priest  of  the 
Hebrews,  ready  to  crown  Joas,  is  seized  with  the  divine  spirit  in 
the  temple  of  Jerusalem  : — 

Behold,  Eternal  Wisdom !  in  thy  cause 
What  champions  arm  themselves, — children  and  priests ! 
But  if  the  Almighty  smile,  who  can  resist  them  ? 
When  he  commands,  the  grave  resigns  its  tenants; 

1  Thus,  Euryalus,  speaking  of  his  mother,  says — 

Oenetrix 

Quam  miseram  tenuit  non  Ilia  telhu, 

Mecum  excedentem  non  mcenia  regie  Acettte. 

"My  unfortunate  mother,  who  determined  to  accompany  me,  and  whom 
neither  her  native  soil  nor  the  walls  of  the  king  of  Acesta  had  the  power  to 
detain." 

A  moment  afterward  he  adds — 

Nequeam  lacrymas  perferre  parentis. 
"I  could  not  resist  the  tears  of  my  mother." 

Volsoens  is  preparing  to  despatch  Euryalus  when  Nisus  exclaims — 
Me,  me,  (adsum  qni  fed,) 

Mea  fraw  omnis.     Nihil  iste  nee  au«w«, 

Nee  potuit. 

"Mine,  mine  is  all  the  fault:  nothing  durst  he,  nor  could  he,  do." 
The  conclusion  of  this  admirable  episode  is  also  of  a  negative  character. 


VIRGIL  AND   RACINE   COMPARED.  259 

'Tis  he  who  wounds  and  heals,  destroys  and  saves ! 
They  trust  not,  as  thou  seest,  in  their  own  merits, 
But  in  thy  name  so  oft  by  them  invoked, 
In  oaths  sworn  by  thee  to  their  holiest  king, 
And  in  this  temple,  with  thy  presence  crowned, 
Which,  like  the  sun,  from  age  to  age  shall  last. 
What  holy  awe  is  this  that  thrills  my  heart? 
Is  it  the  Spirit  Divine  that  seizes  on  me? 
'Tis  He  himself!     He  fires  uiy  breast,  he  speaks; 
My  eyes  are  opened,  and  dark,  distant  ages 

Spring  forth  to  view  ! 

Hearken,  0  Heavens!  thou  Earth,  attention  keep! 
0  Jacob,  say  no  more  thy  God  doth  sleep. 
Vanish,  ye  sinners,  and  with  terror  fly, 
The  Lord  awakes,  arrayed  in  majesty ! 


How  into  drossy  lead  is  changed  the  gold! 
Who  is  that  bleeding  priest  I  there  behold? 
Jerusalem,  thou  faithless  city,  weep, 
Who  in  thy  prophet's  blood  thy  sword  dost  steep. 
Thy  God  hath  banished  all  his  former  love, 
And  odious  now  thy  fuming  odors  prove. 
Ah!  whither  are  those  youths  and  women  driven? 
The  Queen  of  cities  is  destroyed  by  Heaven; 
Her  captive  priests  and  kings  to  strangers  bow, 
And  God  her  solemn  pomp  no  longer  will  allow. 
Ye  towering  cedars,  burn ;  thou  temple,  fall, 
And  in  one  common  ruin  mingle  all. 

Jerusalem,  dear  object  of  my  grief, 
What  daring  hand  thy  strength  disarms 
And  in  one  day  has  ravished  all  thy  charms? 

Oh  that,  to  give  me  some  relief, 
Mine  eyes  could  like  two  fountains  flow, 
With  never-ceasing  streams  to  weep  thy  wo  I1 

This  passage  requires  no  comment. 

As  Virgil  and  Racine  recur  so  frequently  in  our  criticisms,  let 
us  endeavor  to  form  a  just  idea  of  their  talents  and  their  genius. 
These  two  great  poets  so  nearly  resemble  each  other,  that  they 
might  deceive  the  eyes  of  the  Muse  herself,  like  those  twins  men 
tioned  in  the  ^neid,  who  occasioned  their  own  mother  agreeable 
mistakes. 

Both  of  them  carefully  polish  their  works;  they  are  both  full 
of  taste,  bold,  yet  natural  in  expression;  sublime  in  the  por 
trayal  of  love,  and,  as  if  one  had  followed  the  other  step  by  s>tep, 

1  Athalie,  act  iii.  scene  vii.     From  Duncombe's  translation. 


260  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

Racine  has  introduced  into  his  Esther  a  certain  sweetness  of 
melody,  with  which  Virgil  has,  in  like  manner,  filled  his  second 
eclogue.  The  difference,  however,  in  their  respective  strains  is 
that  which  exists  between  the  voice  of  a  tender  maiden  and  that 
of  a  youth,  between  the  sighs  of  innocence  and  those  of  sinful 
love. 

These  are,  perhaps,  the  points  in  which  Virgil  and  Racine  re 
semble  each  other;  the  following  are,  perhaps,  those  in  which 
they  differ. 

The  latter  is  in  general  superior  to  the  former  in  the  invention 
of  character.  Agamemnon,  Achilles,  Orestes,  M ithridates,  Aco- 
mates,  are  far  superior  to  all  the  heroes  of  the  jEneid.  ^Eueas 
and  Turnus  are  not  finely  drawn,  except  in  two  or  three  passages. 
Mezentius  alone  is  boldly  delineated. 

In  the  soft  and  tender  scenes,  however,  Virgil  bursts  forth  in 
all  his  genius.  Evander,  the  venerable  monarch  of  Arcadia, 
living  beneath  a  roof  of  thatch,  and  defended  by  two  shepherds' 
dogs  on  the  very  spot  where,  at  a  future  period,  will  rise  the 
magnificent  residence  of  the  Caesars,  surrounded  by  the  Praetorian 
guard ;  the  youthful  Pallas ;  the  comely  Lausus,  the  virtuous  son 
of  a  guilty  father;  and,  lastly,  Nisus  and  Euryalus,  are  characters 
perfectly  divine. 

In  the  delineation  of  females  Racine  resumes  the  superiority. 
Agrippina  is  more  ambitious  than  Amata,  and  Phaedra  more  im 
passioned  than  Dido. 

We  shall  say  nothing  of  Athalie,  because  in  this  piece  Racine 
stands  unrivalled;  it  is  the  most  perfect  production  of  genius  in 
spired  by  religion. 

In  another  particular,  however,  Virgil  has  the  advantage  over 
Racine;  he  is  more  pensive,  more  melancholy.  Not  that  the 
author  of  Phaedra  would  have  been  incapable  of  producing  this 
melody  of  sighs.  The  role  of  Andromache,  Berenice  throughout, 
some  stanzas  of  hymns  in  imitation  of  the  Bible,  several  strophes 
of  the  choruses  in  Esther  and  Athalie,  exhibit  the  powers  which 
he  possessed  in  this  way.  But  he  lived  too  much  in  society,  and 
too  little  in  solitude.  The  court  of  Louis  XIV.,  though  it  refined 
his  taste  and  gave  him  the  majesty  of  forms,  was,  perhaps,  detri 
mental  to  him  in  other  respects ;  it  placed  him  at  too  great  a  dis 
tance  from  nature  and  rural  simplicity. 


VIRGIL   AND   RACINE   COMPARED.  261 


We  have  already  remarked1  that  one  of  the  principal  causes 
of  Virgil's  melancholy  was,  doubtless,  the  sense  of  the  hardships 
which  he  had  undergone  in  his  youth.  Though  driven  from  his 
home,  the  memory  of  his  Mantua  was  never  to  be  eifaced.  But 
he  was  no  longer  the  Roman  of  the  republic,  loving  his  country 
in  the  harsh  and  rugged  manner  of  a  Brutus;  he  was  the  Roman 
of  the  monarchy  of  Augustus,  the  rival  of  Homer,  and  the  nurs 
ling  of  the  Muses. 

Virgil  cultivated  this  germ  of  melancholy  by  living  in  solitude. 
To  this  circumstance  must,  perhaps,  be  added  some  others  of  a 
personal  nature.  Our  moral  or  physical  defects  have  a  powerful 
influence  upon  our  temper,  and  are  frequently  the  secret  origin 
of  the  predominant  feature  of  our  character.  Virgil  had  a  diffi 
culty  in  pronunciation,2  a  weakly  constitution,  and  rustic  appear 
ance.  He  seems  in  his  youth  to  have  had  strong  passions ;  and 
these  natural  imperfections,  perhaps,  proved  obstacles  to  their 
indulgence.  Thus,  family  troubles,  the  love  of  a  country  life, 
wounded  self-love,  and  passions  debarred  of  gratification,  con 
curred  in  giving  him  that  tincture  of  melancholy  which  charms 
us  in  his  productions. 

We  meet  with  no  such  thing  in  Racine  as  the  Diis  aliter  visum 
— the  Dulces  moriens  reminiscitur  Argos — the  Disce  puer  vir- 
tutem  ex  me,  fortunam  ex  aliis — the  Lyrnessi  damns  alta  :  sola 
Laurente  sepulchrum.  It  may  not,  perhaps,  be  superfluous  to 
observe  that  almost  all  these  expressions  fraught  with  melan 
choly  occur  in  the  last  six  books  of  the  ^Eneid,  as  well  as  the 
episodes  of  Evander  and  Pallas,  Mezentius  and  Lausus,  and  Nisus 
and  Euryalus.  It  would  seem  that  as  he  approached  the  tomb 
the  Mantuan  bard  transfused  something  more  divine  than  ever 
into  his  strains;  like  those  swans  of  the  Eurotas,  consecrated  to 
the  Muses,  which  just  before  they  expired  were  favored,  accord 
ing  to  Pythagoras,  with  an  inward  view  of  Olympus,  and  mani 
fested  their  pleasure  by  strains  of  melody. 

Virgil  is  the  friend  of  the  solitary,  the  companion  of  the  pri 
vate  hours  of  life.  Racine  is,  perhaps,  superior  to  the  Latin 
poet,  because  he  was  the  author  of  Atlialiej  but  in  the  latter 

1  Part  I.,  book  v.,  chap.  14. 

2  Sermone  tardissimitm,  ac  pene  indocto  similem facie  rusticanA,  <tc. 

Donat.,  de  P.  Yirg.  vit. 


262  GENIUS    OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

there  is  something  that  excites  softer  emotions  in  the  heart.  We 
feel  greater  admiration  for  the  one,  greater  love  for  the  other 
The  sorrows  depicted  by  the  first  are  too  royal ;  the  second  ad 
dresses  himself  more  to  all  ranks  of  society.  On  surveying  the 
pictures  of  human  vicissitudes  delineated  by  Racine,  we  may 
imagine  ourselves  wandering  in  the  deserted  parks  of  Versailles ; 
they  are  vast  and  dull,  but  amid  the  growing  solitude  we  perceive 
the  regular  hand  of  art  and  the  vestiges  of  former  grandeur : — 

Naught  meets  the  eye  but  towers  reduced  to  ashes, 
A  river  tinged  with  blood,  and  desert  plains. 

The  pictures  of  Virgil,  without  possessing  less  dignity,  are  not 
confined  to  certain  prospects  of  life.  They  represent  all  nature ; 
they  embrace  the  solitudes  of  the  forests,  the  aspect  of  the  moun 
tains,  the  shores  of  ocean,  where  exiled  females  fix  their  weeping 
eyes  on  its  boundless  billows  : — 

Cunctaeque  profunduin 
Pontum  adspectabant  flentes. 


CHAPTER  XL 

THE    WARRIOR — DEFINITION    OF    THE    BEAUTIFUL    IDEAL. 

THE  heroic  ages  are  favorable  to  poetry,  because  they  have 
that  antiquity  and  that  uncertainty  of  tradition  which  are  required 
by  the  Muses,  naturally  somewhat  addicted  to  fiction.  We  daily 
behold  extraordinary  events  without  taking  any  interest  in  them  ; 
but  we  listen  with  delight  to  the  relation  of  the  obscure  facts  of 
a  distant  period.  The  truth  is,  that  the  greatest  events  in  this 
world  are  extremely  little  in  themselves :  the  mind,  sensible  of 
this  defect  in  human  affairs,  and  tending  incessantly  toward  im 
mensity,  wishes  to  behold  them  only  through  an  indistinct  me 
dium,  that  it  may  magnify  their  importance. 

Now,  the  spirit  of  the  heroic  ages  is  formed  by  the  union  of  an 
imperfect  civilization  with  a  religious  system  at  the  highest  point 
of  its  influence.  Barbarism  and  polytheism  produced  the  heroea 


THE   WARRIOR.  263 

of  Homer ;  from  barbarism  and  Christianity  arose  the  knights  of 
Tasso. 

Which  of  the  two — the  heroes  or  the  knights — deserve  the  pre 
ference  either  in  morals  or  in  poetry  ?  This  is  a  question  that  it 
may  not  be  amiss  to  examine. 

Setting  aside  the  particular  genius  of  the  two  poets,  and  com 
paring  only  man  with  man,  the  characters  of  the  Jerusalem  ap 
pear  to  us  superior  to  those  of  the  Iliad. 

Wha,t  a  vast  difference,  in  fact,  between  those  knights  so  in 
genuous,  so  disinterested,  so  humane,  and  those  perfidious,  ava 
ricious,  ferocious  warriors  of  antiquity,  who  insulted  the  lifeless 
remains  of  their  enemies, — as  poetical  by  their  vices  as  the  for 
mer  were  by  their  virtues  ! 

If  by  heroism  is  meant  an  effort  against  the  passions  in  favor 
of  virtue,  then,  most  assuredly,  Godfrey  is  the  genuine  hero,  not 
Agamemnon.  Now,  we  would  ask  how  it  happens  that  Tasso,  in 
delineating  his  characters,  has  exhibited  the  pattern  of  the  per 
fect  soldier,  while  Homer,  in  representing  the  men  of  the  heroic 
ages,  has  produced  but  a  species  of  monsters  ?  The  reason  is, 
that  Christianity,  ever  since  its  first  institution,  has  furnished  the 
Deau-ideal  in  morals,  or  the  beau-ideal  of  character,  while  poly 
theism  was  incapable  of  bestowing  this  important  advantage  on 
the  Grecian  bard.  We  request  the  reader's  attention  for  a  mo 
ment  to  this  subject;  it  is  of  too  much  consequence  to  the  main 
design  of  our  work  not  to  be  placed  in  its  clearest  light. 

There  are  two  kinds  of  the  beautiful  ideal,  the  moral  and  the 
physical,  both  of  which  are  the  offspring  of  society,  and  to  both 
such  people  as  are  bit  little  removed  from  the  state  of  nature — 
the  savages,  for  instance — are  utter  strangers.  They  merely  aim 
in  their  songs  at  giving  a  faithful  representation  of  what  they 
see.  As  they  live  in  the  midst  of  deserts,  their  pictures  are 
noble  and  simple  j  you  find  in  them  no  marks  of  bad  taste,  but 
then  they  are  monotonous,  and  the  sentiments  which  they  express 
never  rise  to  heroism. 

The  age  of  Homer  was  already  remote  from  those  early  times. 
When  a  savage  pierces  a  roebuck  with  his  arrows,  strips  off  the 
skin  in  the  recess  of  the  forest,  lays  his  victim  upon  the  coals  of 
a  burning  oak,  every  circumstance  in  this  action  is  poetic.  But 
in  the  tent  of  Achilles  there  are  already  bowls,  spits,  vessels  A 


264  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

few  more  details,  and  Homer  would  have  sunk  into  meanness  in 
his  descriptions,  or  he  must  have  entered  the  path  of  the  beauti 
ful  ideal  by  beginning  to  conceal. 

Thus,  in  proportion  as  society  multiplied  the  wants  of  life,  poets 
learned  that  they  ought  not,  as  in  past  times,  to  exhibit  every 
circumstance  to  the  eye,  but  to  throw  a  veil  over  certain  parts  of 
the  picture. 

Having  advanced  this  first  step,  they  perceived  that  it  was 
likewise  necessary  to  select;  and  then  that  the  object  selected 
was  susceptible  of  a  more  beautiful  form,  or  produced  a  more 
agreeable  effect  in  this  or  in  that  position. 

Continuing  thus  to  hide  and  to  select,  to  add  and  to  retrench, 
they  gradually  attained  to  forms  which  ceased  to  be  natural,  but 
which  were  more  perfect  than  nature;  by  artiste  these  forms 
were  denominated  the  beautiful  ideal. 

The  beautiful  ideal  may,  therefore,  be  defined  the  art  of  select 
ing  and  concealing. 

This  definition  is  equally  applicable  to  the  beautiful  ideal  in  the 
moral  and  to  that  in  the  physical  order.  The  latter  consists  in 
the  dexterous  concealment  of  the  weak  part  of  objects;  the 
former  in  hiding  certain  foibles  of  the  soul — for  the  soul  has  its 
low  wants  and  blemishes  as  well  as  the  body. 

Here  we  cannot  forbear  remarking  that  naught  but  man  is  sus 
ceptible  of  being  represented  more  perfect  than  nature,  and,  as  it 
were,  approaching  to  the  Divinity.  Who  ever  thought  of  delineat 
ing  the  bea  utiful  ideal  of  a  horse,  an  eagle,  or  a  lion  ?  We  be 
hold  here  an  admirable  proof  of  the  grandeur  of  our  destiny  and 
the  immortality  of  the  soul. 

That  society  in  which  morals  first  reached  their  complete  de 
velopment  must  have  been  the  first  to  attain  the  beautiful  moral 
ideal,  or,  what  amounts  to  the  same  thing,  the  beautiful  ideal  of 
character.  Now,  such  was  eminently  the  case  with  that  portion 
of  mankind  who  were  formed  under  the  Christian  dispensation. 
It  is  not  more  strange  than  true  that,  while  our  forefathers  were 
barbarous  in  every  other  respect,  morals  had,  by  means  of  the 
gospel,  been  raised  to  the  highest  degree  of  perfection  among 
them ;  so  that  there  existed  men  who,  if  we  may  be  allowed  the 
expression,  were  at  the  same  time  savages  in  body  and  civilized 
in  mind. 


THE   WARRIOR.  265 

This  circumstance  constitutes  the  beauty  of  the  ages  of  chi 
valry,  and  gives  them  a  superiority  over  the  heroic  as  well  as  over 
modern  times. 

If  you  undertake  to  delineate  the  early  ages  of  Greece,  you 
will  be  as  much  shocked  by  their  rudeness  of  character  as  you 
will  be  pleased  with  the  simplicity  of  their  manners.  Polytheism 
furnishes  no  means  of  correcting  barbarous  nature  and  supply 
ing  the  deficiencies  of  the  primitive  virtues. 

If,  on  the  other  hand,  you  wish  to  sketch  a  modern  age,  you  will 
be  obliged  to  banish  all  truth  from  your  work,  and  to  adopt  both 
the  beautiful  moral  ideal  and  the  beautiful  physical  ideal.  Too 
remote  from  nature  and  from  religion  in  every  respect,  you  could 
not  faithfully  depict  the  interior  of  our  families,  and  still  less  the 
secret  of  our  hearts. 

Chivalry  alone  presents  the  charming  mixture  of  truth  and 
fiction. 

In  the  first  place,  you  may  exhibit  a  picture  of  manners  accu 
rately  copied  from  nature.  An  ancient  castle,  a  spacious  hall,  a 
blazing  fire,  jousts,  tournaments,  hunting  parties,  the  sound  of  the 
horn,  and  the  clangor  of  arms,  have  nothing  that  offends  against 
taste,  nothing  that  ought  to  be  either  selected  or  concealed. 

In  the  next  place,  the  Christian  poet,  more  fortunate  than 
Homer,  is  not  compelled  to  tarnish  his  picture  by  introducing 
into  it  the  barbarous  or  the  natural  man ;  Christianity  offers  him 
the  perfect  hero. 

Thus,  while  we  see  Tasso  merged  in  nature  for  the  description 
of  physical  objects,  he  rises  above  nature  for  the  perfection  of 
those  in  the  moral  order. 

Now,  nature  and  the  ideal  are  the  two  great  sources  of  all 
poetic  interest — the  pathetic  and  the  marvellous. 


260  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY 


CHAPTER  XII. 

THE    WARRIOR,   (CONTINUED.) 

WE  shall  now  show  that  the  virtues  of  the  knights  which  exalt 
their  character  to  the  beautiful  ideal  are  truly  Christian  virtues. 

If  they  were  but  mere  moral  virtues,  invented  by  the  poet, 
they  would  have  neither  action  nor  elasticity.  We  have  an 
instance  of  this  kind  in  ./Eneas,  whom  Virgil  has  made  a  philo 
sophic  hero. 

The  purely  moral  virtues  are  essentially  frigid ;  they  imply  not 
something  added  to  the  soul,  but  something  retrenched  from  it ; 
it  is  the  absence  of  vice  rather  than  the  presence  of  virtue.1 

The  religious  virtues  have  wings ;  they  are  highly  impassioned. 
Not  content  with  abstaining  from  evil,  they  are  anxious  to  do 
good.  They  possess  the  activity  of  love;  they  reside  in  a  superioi 
region,  the  objects  in  which  appear  somewhat  magnified.  Such 
were  the  virtues  of  chivalry. 

Faith  or  fidelity  was  the  first  virtue  of  the  knights;  faith  is,  in 
like  manner,  the  first  virtue  of  Christianity. 

The  knight  never  told  a  lie.     Here  is  the  Christian. 

The  knight  was  poor,  and  the  most  disinterested  of  men.  Here 
you  see  the  disciple  of  the  gospel. 

The  knight  travelled  through  the  world,  assisting  the  widow 
and  the  orphan.  Here  you  behold  the  charity  of  Jesus  Christ. 

The  knight  possessed  sensibility  and  delicacy.  What  could 
have  given  him  these  amiable  qualities  but  a  humane  religion 
which  invariably  inculcates  respect  for  the  weak  ?  With  what 
benignity  does  Christ  himself  address  the  women  in  the  gospel ! 

Agamemnon  brutally  declares  that  he  loves  Briseis  as  dearly  aa 
his  wife,  because  she  is  not  less  skilful  in  ornamental  works. 
Such  is  not  the  language  of  a  knight. 

Finally,  Christianity  has  produced  that  valor  of  modern  heroes 
which  is  so  far  superior  to  that  of  the  heroes  of  antiquity. 

1  The  distinction  between  moral  and  religious  virtues  is  not  exact  The 
author  would  have  written  more  correctly  on  this  point  by  using  the  word 
natural  instead  of  n  oral.  T. 


THE   WARRICE.  267 


The  true  religion  teaches  us  that  the  merit  of  a  man  should 
be  measured  not  by  bodily  strength,  but  by  greatness  of  soul. 
Hence  the  weakest  of  the  knights  never  quakes  in  presence  of 
an  enemy;  and,  though  certain  to  meet  death,  he  has  not  even  a 
thought  of  flight. 

This  exalted  valor  is  become  so  common  that  the  lowest  of  our 
private  soldiers  is  more  courageous  than  an  Ajax,  who  fled  before 
Hector,  who  in  his  turn  ran  away  from  Achilles.  As  to  the  cle 
mency  of  the  Christian  knight  toward  the  vanquished,  who  can 
deny  that  it  springs  from  Christianity? 

Modern  poets  have  borrowed  a  multitude  of  new  characters 
from  the  chivalrous  age.  In  tragedy,  it  will  be  sufficient  to  men 
tion  Tancred,  Nemours,  Couci,  and  that  Nerestan  who  brings 
the  ransom  of  his  brethren  in  arms  at  a  moment  when  all  hope 
of  his  return  has  fled,  and  surrenders  himself  a  prisoner  because 
he  cannot  pay  the  sum  required  for  his  own  redemption.  How 
beautiful  these  Christian  morals  !  Let  it  not  be  said  that  this  is 
a  purely  poetical  invention;  there  are  a  hundred  instances  of 
Christians  who  have  resigned  themselves  into  the  hands  of  infi 
dels,  either  to  deliver  other  Christians,  or  because  they  were  un 
able  to  raise  the  sum  which  they  had  promised. 

Everybody  knows  how  favorable  chivalry  is  to  the  epic  poem. 
How  admirable  are  all  the  knights  of  the  Jerusalem  Delivered! 
Kinaldo  so  brilliant,  Tancred  so  generous,  the  venerable  Raymond 
de  Toulouse,  always  dejected  and  always  cheered  again !  You 
are  among  them  beneath  the  walls  of  Solyma;  you  hear  the 
young  Bouillon,  speaking  of  Armida,  exclaim,  "  What  will  they 
say  a^  the  court  of  France  when  it  is  known  that  we  have  refused 
our  aid  to  beauty?"  To  be  convinced  at  once  of  the  immense 
difference  between  Homer's  heroes  and  those  of  Tasso,  cast  your 
eyes  upon  Godfrey's  camp  and  the  ramparts  of  Jerusalem. 
Here  are  the  knights,  there  the  heroes  of  antiquity.  Solyman 
himself  appears  to  advantage  only  because  the  poet  has  given  him 
some  traits  of  the  generosity  of  the  chevalier ;  so  that  even  the 
principal  hero  of  the  infidels  borrows  his  majesty  from  Christianity. 
But  in  Godfrey  we  admire  the  perfection  of  the  heroic  cha 
racter.  When  jJEneas  would  escape  the  seduction  of  a  female,  he 
fixed  his  eyes  on  the  ground,  immota  tenebat  lumina ;  he  con 
cealed  his  agitation,  and  gave  vague  replies :  "  0  queen,  I  deny 


260  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY 


CHAPTER  XII. 

THE    WARRIOR,   (CONTINUED.) 

WE  shall  now  show  that  the  virtues  of  the  knights  which  exalt 
their  character  to  the  beautiful  ideal  are  truly  Christian  virtues. 

If  they  were  but  mere  moral  virtues,  invented  by  the  poet, 
they  would  have  neither  action  nor  elasticity.  We  have  an 
instance  of  this  kind  in  ./Eneas,  whom  Virgil  has  made  a  philo 
sophic  hero. 

The  purely  moral  virtues  are  essentially  frigid ;  they  imply  not 
something  added  to  the  soul,  but  something  retrenched  from  it ; 
it  is  the  absence  of  vice  rather  than  the  presence  of  virtue.1 

The  religious  virtues  have  wings ;  they  are  highly  impassioned. 
Not  content  with  abstaining  from  evil,  they  are  anxious  to  do 
good.  They  possess  the  activity  of  love ;  they  reside  in  a  superioi 
region,  the  objects  in  which  appear  somewhat  magnified.  Such 
were  the  virtues  of  chivalry. 

Faith  or  fidelity  was  the  first  virtue  of  the  knights;  faith  is,  in 
like  manner,  the  first  virtue  of  Christianity. 

The  knight  never  told  a  lie.      Here  is  the  Christian. 

The  knight  was  poor,  and  the  most  disinterested  of  men.  Here 
you  see  the  disciple  of  the  gospel. 

The  knight  travelled  through  the  world,  assisting  the  widow 
and  the  orphan.  Here  you  behold  the  charity  of  Jesus  Christ. 

The  knight  possessed  sensibility  and  delicacy.  What  could 
have  given  him  these  amiable  qualities  but  a  humane  religion 
which  invariably  inculcates  respect  for  the  weak  ?  With  what 
benignity  does  Christ  himself  address  the  women  in  the  gospel ! 

Agamemnon  brutally  declares  that  he  loves  Briseis  as  dearly  aa 
his  wife,  because  she  is  not  less  skilful  in  ornamental  works. 
Such  is  not  the  language  of  a  knight. 

Finally,  Christianity  has  produced  that  valor  of  modern  heroes 
which  is  so  far  superior  to  that  of  the  heroes  of  antiquity. 

1  The  distinction  between  moral  and  religious  virtues  is  not  exact  The 
author  would  have  written  more  correctly  on  this  point  by  using  the  word 
natural  instead  of  ti  oral.  T. 


THE   WARRILE.  267 

The  true  religion  teaches  us  that  the  merit  of  a  man  should 
be  measured  not  by  bodily  strength,  but  by  greatness  of  soul. 
Hence  the  weakest  of  the  knights  never  quakes  in  presence  of 
an  enemy;  and,  though  certain  to  meet  death,  he  has  not  even  a 
thought  of  flight. 

This  exalted  valor  is  become  so  common  that  the  lowest  of  our 
private  soldiers  is  more  courageous  than  an  Ajax,  who  fled  before 
Hector,  who  in  his  turn  ran  away  from  Achilles.  As  to  the  cle 
mency  of  the  Christian  knight  toward  the  vanquished,  who  can 
deny  that  it  springs  from  Christianity? 

Modern  poets  have  borrowed  a  multitude  of  new  characters 
from  the  chivalrous  age.  In  tragedy,  it  will  be  sufficient  to  men 
tion  Tancred,  Nemours,  Couci,  and  that  Nerestan  who  brings 
the  ransom  of  his  brethren  in  arms  at  a  moment  when  all  hope 
of  his  return  has  fled,  and  surrenders  himself  a  prisoner  because 
he  cannot  pay  the  sum  required  for  his  own  redemption.  How 
beautiful  these  Christian  morals  !  Let  it  not  be  said  that  this  is 
a  purely  poetical  invention  ;  there  are  a  hundred  instances  of 
Christians  who  have  resigned  themselves  into  the  hands  of  infi 
dels,  either  to  deliver  other  Christians,  or  because  they  were  un 
able  to  raise  the  sum  which  they  had  promised. 

Everybody  knows  how  favorable  chivalry  is  to  the  epic  poem. 
How  admirable  are  all  the  knights  of  the  Jerusalem  Delivered! 
Rinaldo  so  brilliant,  Tancred  so  generous,  the  venerable  Raymond 
de  Toulouse,  always  dejected  and  always  cheered  again !  You 
are  among  them  beneath  the  walls  of  Solyma;  you  hear  the 
young  Bouillon,  speaking  of  Armida,  exclaim,  "  What  will  they 
say  at  the  court  of  France  when  it  is  known  that  we  have  refused 
our  aid  to  beauty?"  To  be  convinced  at  once  of  the  immense 
difference  between  Homer's  heroes  and  those  of  Tasso,  cast  your 
eyes  upon  Godfrey's  camp  and  the  ramparts  of  Jerusalem. 
Here  are  the  knights,  there  the  heroes  of  antiquity.  Solyman 
himself  appears  to  advantage  only  because  the  poet  has  given  him 
some  traits  of  the  generosity  of  the  chevalier ;  so  that  even  the 
principal  hero  of  the  infidels  borrows  his  majesty  from  Christianity. 
But  in  Godfrey  we  admire  the  perfection  of  the  heroic  cha 
racter.  When  JEneas  would  escape  the  seduction  of  a  female,  he 
fixed  his  eyes  on  the  ground,  immota  tenebat  lumina ;  he  con 
cealed  his  agitation,  and  gave  vague  replies:  "0  queen,  I  deny 


268  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

not  thy  favors;  I  shall  ever  remember  Elisa."  Not  thus  does  the 
Christian  chieftain  listen  to  the  addresses  of  Armida.  He  resists, 
for  too  well  is  he  acquainted  with  the  frail  allurements  of  this 
world ;  he  pursues  his  flight  toward  heaven,  like  the  glutted  bird, 
heedless  of  the  specious  food  which  invites  him. 

Qual  saturo  augel,  che  non  si  cali, 

Ove  il  cibo  mostrando,  altri  Pinvita. 

In  combat,  in  deliberation,  in  appeasing  a  sedition,  in  every 
situation,  Bouillon  is  great,  is  august.  Ulysses  strikes  Thersites 
with  his  sceptre,  and  stops  the  Greeks  when  running  to  their 
ships.  This  is  natural  and  picturesque.  But  behold  Godfrey 
singly  showing  himself  to  an  enraged  army,  which  accuses  him 
of  having  caused  the  assassination  of  a  hero !  What  noble  and 
impressive  beauty  in  the  prayer  of  this  captain,  so  proudly  con 
scious  of  his  virtue  !  and  how  this  prayer  afterward  heightens 
the  intrepidity  of  the  warrior,  who,  unarmed  and  bareheaded, 
meets  a  mutinous  soldiery ! 

In  battle,  a  sacred  and  majestic  valor,  unknown  to  the  war 
riors  of  Homer  and  Virgil,  animates  the  Christian  hero.  ^Eneas, 
protected  by  his  divine  armor,  and  standing  on  the  stern  of  his 
galley  as  it  approaches  the  Rutulian  shore,  is  in  a  fine  epic  atti 
tude;  Agamemnon,  like  the  thundering  Jupiter,  displays  an 
image  replete  with  grandeur;  but  in  the  last  canto  of  %  Jeru 
salem,  Godfrey  is  described  in  a  manner  not  inferior  either  to  the 
progenitor  of  the  Caesars  or  to  the  leader  of  the  Atrides. 

The  sun  has  just  risen,  and  the  armies  have  taken  their  posi 
tion.     The  banners  wave  in  the  wind,  the  plumes  float  on  the 
helmets;     the  rich  caparisons  of  the  horses,  and  the  steel  and 
gold  armor  of  the  knights,  glisten  in  the  first  rays  of  the  orb  of 
day.     Mounted  on  a  swift  charger,  Godfrey  rides  through  the 
ranks  of  his  army;  he  harangues  his  followers,  and  his  address 
s  a  model  of  military  eloquence.     A  glory  surrounds  his  head; 
his  face  beams  with  unusual  splendor;  the  angel  of  victory  covera 
him  with  his  wings.      Profound  silence  ensues.     The  prostrate 
legions  adore  that  Almighty  who  caused  the  great  Goliah  to  fall 
by  the  hand  of  a  youthful  shepherd.      The  trumpets  suddenly 
sound  the  charge;  the  Christian  soldiers  rise,  and,  invigorated  by 
the  strength  of  the  God  of  Hosts,  rush,  undaunted,  and  confident 
of  victory,  upon  the  hostile  battalions  of  the  Saracens. 


BOOK    III 

OF  POETRY  CONSIDERED  IN  ITS  RELATIONS  TO  MAN- 
TEE   SUBJECT   CONTINUED. 


CHAPTER   I. 

CHRISTIANITY    HAS     CHANGED    THE    RELATIONS    OP    THE    PAS 
SIONS,    BY   CHANGING   THE   BASIS    OF   VICE   AND    VIRTUE. 

FROM  the  examination  of  characters,  we  come  to  that  of  the 
passions.  It  is  obvious  that  in  treating  of  the  former  it  was 
impossible  to  avoid  touching  a  little  upon  the  latter,  but  here  we 
purpose  to  enter  more  largely  into  the  subject.  If  there  existed 
a  religion  whose  essential  quality  it  was  to  oppose  a  barrier  to 
the  passions  of  man,  it  would  of  necessity  increase  the  operation 
of  those  passions  in  the  drama  and  the  epopee ;  it  would,  from  its 
very  nature,  be  more  favorable  to  the  delineation  of  sentiment 
than  any  other  religious  institution,  which,  unacquainted  with 
the  errors  of  the  heart,  would  act  upon  us  only  by  means  of  ex 
ternal  objects.  Now,  here  lies  the  great  advantage  which  Chris 
tianity  possesses  over  the  religions  of  antiquity :  it  is  a  heavenly 
wind  which  fills  the  sails  of  virtue  and  multiplies  the  storms  of 
conscience  in  opposition  to  vice. 

Since  the  proclamation  of  the  gospel,  the  foundations  of  morals 
have  changed  among  men,  at  least  among  Christians.  Among 
the  ancients,  for  example,  humility  was  considered  as  meanness 
and  pride  as  magnanimity;  among  Christians,  on  the  contrary, 
pride  is  the  first  of  vices  and  humility  the  chief  of  virtues.  This 
single  change  of  principles  displays  human  nature  in  a  new  fight, 
and  we  cannot  help  discovering  in  the  passions  shades  that  were 
not  perceived  in  them  by  the  ancients. 

2<5*  269 


270  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


With  us,  then,  vanity  is  the  root  of  evil,  and  charity  the  feourcc 
of  good;  so  that  the  vicious  passions  are  invariably  a  compound 
of  pride,  and  the  virtuous  passions  a  compound  of  love. 

Apply  this  principle,  and  you  will  be  convinced  of  its  truth. 
Why  are  all  the  passions  allied  to  courage  more  pleasing  among 
the  moderns  than  among  the  ancients?  Why  have  we  given 
another  character  to  valor,  and  transformed  a  brutal  impulse  into 
a  virtue?  Because  with  this  impulse  has  been  associated  hu 
mility.  From  this  combination  has  arisen  magnanimity  or  poetic 
generosity,  a  species  of  passion  (for  to  that  length  it  was  carried 
by  the  knights)  to  which  the  ancients  were  utter  strangers. 

One  of  our  most  delightful  sentiments,  and  perhaps  the  only 
one  that  absolutely  belongs  to  the  soul,  (for  all  the  others  have 
some  admixture  of  sense  in  their  nature  or  their  object,)  is  friend 
ship.  How  wonderfully  has  Christianity  heightened  the  charms 
of  this  celestial  passion,  by  giving  it  charity  for  its  foundation! 
St.  John  was  the  disciple  whom  Jesus  loved,  and,  before  he  ex 
pired  on  the  cross,  friendship  heard  him  pronounce  those  words 
truly  worthy  of  a  God : — "  Woman,  behold  thy  son!"  said  he  to 
his  mother,  and  to  the  disciple,  "Behold  thy  mother!" 

Christianity,  which  has  revealed  our  twofold  nature  and  laid 
open  the  contradictions  of  our  being  and  the  good  and  bad  of  our 
heart,  which,  like  ourselves,  is  full  of  contrasts, — exhibiting  to  us 
an  incarnate  God,  an  infant  who  is  at  the  same  time  the  ruler  of 
the  spheres,  the  Creator  of  the  universe  receiving  life  from  a 
creature, — Christianity,  we  say,  viewed  in  this  light  of  contrasts, 
is  super-eminently  the  religion  of  friendship.  This  sentiment  is 
strengthened  as  much  by  oppositions  as  by  resemblances.  That 
two  men  may  be  perfect  friends,  they  must  incessantly,  in  some 
way,  attract  and  repel  one  another;  they  must  have  genius  of 
equal  power,  but  of  a  different  kind ;  contrary  opinions,  but  simi 
lar  principles ;  different  antipathies  and  partialities,  but  at  the 
bottom  the  same  sensibility ;  opposite  tempers,  and  yet  like  tastes  : 
in  a  word,  great  contrasts  of  character  and  great  harmonies  of 
heart. 

This  genial  warmth  which  charity  communicates  to  the  virtuous 
passions  imparts  to  them  a  divine  character.  Among  the  an 
cients,  the  reign  of  the  affections  terminated  with  the  grave  : 
here  every  thing  suffered  shipwreck.  Friends,  brothers,  husband 


THE   PASSIONS.  271 


and  wife,  parted  at  the  gates  of  death,  and  felt  that  their  separa 
tion  was  eternal.  The  height  of  their  felicity  consisted  in  ming 
ling  their  ashes  together;  but  how  mournful  must  have  been  an 
urn  containing  naught  but  recollections  !  Polytheism  had  fixed 
man  in  the  regions  of  the  past;  Christianity  has  placed  him  in 
the  domain  of  hope.  The  joys  derived  from  virtuous  sentiments 
on  earth  are  but  a  foretaste  of  the  bliss  that  is  reserved  for  us. 
The  principle  of  our  friendships  is  not  in  this  world  :  two  beings 
who  mutually  love  each  other  here  befow  are  only  on  the  road  to 
heaven,  where  they  will  arrive  together  if  virtue  be  their  guide ; 
so  that  this  strong  expression  employed  by  the  poets — to  transfuse 
your  soul  into  that  of  your  friend — is  literally  true  in  respect 
of  two  Christians.  In  quitting  their  bodies,  they  merely  disen 
cumber  themselves  of  an  obstacle  which  prevented  their  more 
intimate  union,  and  their  souls  fly  to  be  commingled  in  the  bosom 
of  the  Almighty. 

It  must  not  be  supposed,  however,  that  Christianity,  in  reveal 
ing  to  us  the  foundations  upon  which  rest  the  passions  of  men, 
has  stripped  life  of  its  enchantments.  Far  from  sullying  the 
imagination  by  allowing  it  to  indulge  in  unbounded  curiosity,  it 
has  drawn  the  veil  of  doubt  and  obscurity  over  things  which  it  is 
useless  for  us  to  know ;  and  in  this  it  has  shown  its  superiority 
over  that  false  philosophy  which  is  too  eager  to  penetrate  into 
the  nature  of  man  and  to  fathom  the  bottom  of  every  thing.  We 
should  not  be  continually  sounding  the  abysses  of  the  heart ;  the 
truths  which  it  contains  belong  to  the  number  of  those  that  re 
quire  half  light  and  perspective.  It  is  highly  imprudent  to  be 
incessantly  applying  our  judgment  to  the  loving  part  of  our 
being,  to  transfer  the  reasoning  spirit  to  the  passions.  This 
curiosity  gradually  leads  us  to  doubt  of  every  thing  generous  and 
noble ;  it  extinguishes  the  sensibilities,  and,  as  it  were,  murders 
the  soul.  The  mysteries  of  the  heart  are  like  those  of  ancient 
Egypt;  every  profane  person  who  strives  to  penetrate  into  their 
secrets  without  being  initiated  by  religion,  as  a  just  punishment 
for  his  audacity  is  suddenly  struck  dead. 


272  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER   II. 

IMPASSIONED    LOVE. 

Dido. 

WHAT  in  our  times  we  properly  call  love  is  a  sentiment  the 
very  name  of  which  was  unknown  to  remote  antiquity.  That 
mixture  of  the  senses  and  of  the  soul, — that  species  of  love  of 
which  friendship  is  the  moral  element, — is  the  growth  of  modern 
ages.  To  Christianity  also  we  are  indebted  for  this  sentiment  in 
its  refined  state ;  for  Christianity,  invariably  tending  to  purify 
the  heart,  has  found  means  to  transfuse  spirituality  even  into  the 
passion  that  seemed  least  susceptible  of  it.  Here,  then,  is  a  new 
source  of  poetic  description,  with  which  this  much  reviled  reli 
gion  has  furnished  the  very  authors  who  insult  it.  In  numberless 
novels  may  be  seen  the  beauties  that  have  been  elicited  from  this 
demi-christian  passion.  The  character  of  Clementina  in  Sir 
Charles  Grandison,  for  instance,  is  one  of  those  master-pieces  of 
composition  of  which  antiquity  affords  no  example.  Lut  let  us 
penetrate  into  this  subject:  let  us  first  consider  impassioned  love, 
and  afterward  take  a  view  of  rural  love. 

The  first  kind  of  love  is  neither  as  pure  as  conjugal  affection 
nor  as  graceful  as  the  sentiment  of  the  shepherd,  but  fiercer  than 
either ;  it  ravages  the  soul  in  which  it  reigns.  Resting  neither 
upon  the  gravity  of  marriage  nor  upon  the  innocence  of  rural 
manners,  and  blending  no  other  spells  with  its  own,  it  becomes 
its  own  illusion,  its  own  insanity,  its  own  substance.  Unknown 
by  the  too  busy  mechanic  and  the  too  simple  husbandman,  this 
passion  exists  only  in  those  ranks  of  society  where  want  of  em 
ployment  leaves  us  oppressed  with  the  whole  weight  of  our  heart, 
together  with  its  immense  self-love  and  its  everlasting  inquietudes. 

So  true  is  it  that  Christianity  sheds  a  brilliant  light  into  the 
abyss  of  our  passions,  that  the  orators  of  the  pulpit  have  been 
most  successful  in  delineating  the  excesses  of  the  human  heart 
and  painting  them  in  the  strongest  and  most  impressive  colors. 
What  a  picture  has  BourdaJoue  drawn  of  ambition  !  How  Mas- 


DIDO.  273 

sillon  has  penetrated  into  the  inmost  recesses  of  our  souls,  and 
drawn  forth  our  passions  and  our  vices  into  open  day !  "  It  is  the 
character  of  this  passion/ '  observes  that  eloquent  preacher,  when 
speaking  of  love,  "  to  fill  the  whole  heart :  we  can  think  of 
nothing  else ;  it  absorbs,  it  intoxicates  us ;  we  find  it  wherever 
we  are ;  there  is  nothing  but  what  revives  its  fatal  images,  but 
what  awakens  its  unjust  desires.  Society  and  solitude,  presence 
and  absence,  the  most  indifferent  objects  and  the  most  serious 
occupations,  the  holy  temple  itself,  the  sacred  altars,  the  awful 
mysteries  of  religion,  renew  its  recollections."1 

"It  is  culpable,"  says  the  same  preacher  in  another  place,2 
"  to  love  for  its  own  sake  what  cannot  tend  to  our  felicity,  our 
perfection,  or  consequently  to  our  peace:  for  in  love  we  seek 
happiness  in  what  we  love;  we  desire  to  find  in  the  beloved 
object  all  that  the  heart  stands  in  need  of;  we  call  upon  it  as  a 
remedy  for  the  dreadful  void  which  we  feel  within  us,  arid  flatter 
ourselves  that  it  will  be  capable  of  filling  it ;  we  consider  it  as 
a  resource  for  all  our  wants,  the  cure  for  all  our  sorrows,  the 
author  of  all  our  happiness But  this  love  of  the  crea 
ture  is  attended  with  the  keenest  anxiety;  we  always  doubt 
whether  we  are  beloved  with  a  warmth  of  affection  equal  to  our 
own;  we  are  ingenious  in  tormenting  ourselves,  assiduous  in 
accumulating  fears,  suspicions,  and  jealousies;  the  more  sincere 
our  passion,  the  more  acutely  we  suffer ;  we  become  the  victims 
of  our  own  distrust.  All  this  you  know,  and  it  is  not  for  me  to 
come  hither  to  address  you  in  the  language  of  your  insensate 
passions/' 

This  great  disease  of  the  soul  bursts  forth  in  all  its  fury  on  the 
appearance  of  the  object  which  is  destined  to  develop  the  seeds 
of  it.  Dido  is  still  engaged  with  the  works  of  her  infant  city;  a 
tempest  arises,  and  a  hero  is  cast  upon  her  shores.  The  queen  is 
agitated;  a  secret  fire  circulates  in  her  veins,  indiscretions  begin, 
pleasures  follow,  disappointment  and  remorse  succeed.  Dido  is 
soon  forsaken;  she.  looks  round  her  with  horror,  and  perceives 
naught  but  precipices.  How  has  that  structure  cf  happiness 
fallen,  of  which  an  exalted  imagination  had  been  the  amorous 


'  Massillon's  Sermon  on  the  Prodigal  Son,  part  i. 
2  Sermon  on  the  Adulteress,  part  i. 

S 


274  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

architect,  like  those  palaces  of  clouds  tinged  for  a  few  moments 
with  the  roseate  hues  of  the  setting  sun  ?  Dido  flies  in  quest  of 
her  lover ;  she  calls  the  faithless  ^Eneas  : — 

"  Perfidious  man,  hopest  thou  to  conceal  from  me  thy  de&igns 
and  escape  clandestinely  from  this  country?  Can  neither  our 
love,  nor  this  hand  which  I  have  given  to  thee,  nor  Dido  ready 
to  ascend  the  fatal  pile — can  nothing  stay  thy  treacherous  steps?"1 

What  anguish,  what  passion,  what  truth,  in  the  eloquence  of 
this  betrayed  woman  !  Her  feelings  so  throng  in  her  heart  that 
she  produces  them  in  confusion,  incoherent,  and  separate,  just  as 
they  accumulate  on  her  lips.  Take  notice  of  the  authorities 
which  she  employs  in  her  prayers.  Is  it  in  the  name  of  the 
gods,  in  the  name  of  a  vain  sovereignty,  that  she  speaks  ?  No ; 
she  does  not  even  insist  upon  Dido  forsaken  ;  but,  more  humble 
and  more  affectionate,  she  implores  the  son  of  Venus  only  by 
tears,  only  by  the  very  hand  of  the  traitor.  If  to  this  she  adds 
the  idea  of  love,  it  is  only  to  extend  it  to  ^Eneas  :  "  By  our  nup 
tials,  by  our  union  already  begun."  Per  connubia  nostra,  per 
inceptos  hi/mcnccos.  She  also  appeals  to  the  places  that  had 
witnessed  her  transports  j  for  the  unfortunate  are  accustomed  to 
associate  surrounding  objects  with  their  sentiments.  When  for 
saken  by  men,  they  strive  to  create  a  support  for  themselves  by 
animating  the  insensible  objects  around  them  with  their  sorrows. 
That  roof,  that  hospitable  hearth,  to  which  she  once  welcomed 
the  ungrateful  chieftain,  are  therefore  the  real  deities  of  Dido. 
Afterward,  with  the  address  of  a  woman,  and  of  a  woman  in  love, 
she  successively  calls  to  mind  Pygmalion  and  larbas,  in  order  to 
awaken  the  generosity  or  the  jealousy  of  the  Trojan  hero.  As 
the  finishing  stroke  of  her  passion  and  her  distress,  the  haughty 
queen  of  Carthage  goes  so  far  as  to  wish  that  "a  little  ^Eneas," 
parvulus  jEneas,  may  be  left  behind  at  her  court  to  soothe  her 
grief,  even  while  attesting  her  shame.  She  imagines  that  so 
many  tears,  so  many  imprecations,  so  many  entreaties,  are  argu 
ments  which  it  is  impossible  for  ^Eneas  to  withstand ;  for  in  these 
moments  of  insanity,  the  passions,  incapable  of  pleading  their 
cause,  conceive  that  they  are  availing  themselves  of  all  their  re 
sources  when  they  are  only  putting  forth  a  turbulent  clamor. 

,  b.  iv. 


THE   PHJEDRA  OF   RACINE.  275 


CHAPTER  III. 

CONTINUATION    OF   THE    PRECEDING    SUBJECT. 
The  Phaedra  of  Racine. 

^  'E  might  be  content  with  opposing  to  Dido  the  Phaedra  of 
Racine.  More  impassioned  than  the  queen  of  Carthage,  she  is  a 
Christian  wife.  The  fear  of  the  avenging  flames  and  the  awful 
eternity  of  hell  is  manifest  throughout  the  whole  part  of  this 
guilty  woman,1  and  particularly  in  the  celebrated  scene  of  jea 
lousy,  which,  as  everybody  knows,  is  the  invention  of  the  modern 
poet.  Incest  was  not  so  rare  and  monstrous  a  crime  among  the 
ancients  as  to  excite  such  apprehensions  in  the  heart  of  the  cul 
prit.  Sophocles,  it  is  true,  represents  Jocasta  as  expiring  the 
moment  she  is  made  acquainted  with  her  guilt,  but  Euripides 
makes  her  live  a  considerable  time  afterward.  If  we  may  believe 
Tertullian,3  the  sorrows  of  OEdipus  excited  nothing  but  the  ridi 
cule  of  the  spectators  in  Macedonia.  Virgil  has  not  placed 
Phaedra  in  the  infernal  regions,  but  only  in  those  myrtle  groves, 
"  those  mournful  regions"  where  wander  lovers  "whom  death 
itself  has  not  relieved  from  their  pains."3 

Thus  the  Phaedra  of  Euripides,  as  well  as  the  Phaedra  of  Se 
neca,  is  more  afraid  of  Theseus  than  of  Tartarus.  Neither  the 
one  nor  the  other  expresses  herself  like  the  Phaedra  of  Racine  : — 

What!  Phaedra  jealous!  and  doth  she  implore 

Thy  pity,  Theseus  ?  and  while  Theseus  lives 

Doth  her  lewd  breast  burn  with  unhallowed  fire  ? 

And  ah  !  whose  love  doth  she  aspire  to  gain? 

At  that  dread  thought  what  horrors  rend  my  soul! 

The  measure  of  my  crimes  is  surely  full, 

Swelled  as  it  is  with  incest  and  imposture ; 

My  murderous  hand?,  athirst  with  vengeance,  burn 

To  bathe  them  in  the  blood  of  innocence. 

Still,  miscreant,  canst  thou  live?  canst  thou  support 

The  light  of  his  pure  beams  from  whom  thou'rt  sprung? 

'  This  fear  of  Tartarus  is  slightly  alluded  to  in  Euripides. 

2  Tertu  .,  Apolog.  3  ^Eneid,  lib.  vi.  444. 


276  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


Where  shall  I  hide?     The  awful  T5ire  and  sovereign 
Of  all  the  gods  is  my  forefather  too, 
And  heaven  and  earth  teem  with  my  ancestors. 
What  if  I  hasten  to  the  realms  of  night 
Infernal,  there  iny  father  holds  the  urn, 
Which  Fate,  'tis  said,  gave  to  his  rigid  hands; 
There  Minos  sits  in  judgment  on  mankind. 
How  will  his  venerable  shade,  aghast, 
Behold  his  daughter,  when  at  his  tribunal 
Constrained  to  avow  her  manifold  misdeeds 
And  crimes  perhaps  unheard-of  even  in  hell  ? 
How,  0  my  parent,  how  wilt  thou  endure 
This  racking  spectacle?     Methinks  I  see 
The  fateful  urn  drop  from  thy  trembling  hand; 
Methinks,  with  brow  austere,  I  see  thee-sit, 
Devising  gome  new  penalty  for  guilt 
Without  a  parallel.     But  ah !  relent ! 
-   Have  mercy  on  thine  offspring,  whom  the  rage 
Of  an  incensed  deity  hath  plunged 
In  nameless  woes.     Alas  !  my  tortured  heart 
Hath  reaped  no  harvest  from  the  damning  crime 
That  steeps  my  name  in  lasting  infamy ! 

This  incomparable  passage  exhibits  a  gradation  of  feeling,  a 
knowledge  of  the  sorrows,  the  anguish,  and  the  transports  of  the 
soul,  which  the  ancients  never  approached.  Among  them  we 
meet  with  fragments,  as  it  were,  of  sentiments,  but  rarely  with  a 
complete  sentiment;  here,  on  the  contrary,  the  whole  heart  is 
poured  forth.  The  most  energetic  exclamation,  perhaps,  that 
passion  ever  dictated,  is  contained  in  the  concluding  lines : — 

Alas  !  my  tortured  heart 

Hath  reaped  no  harvest  from  the  damning  crime 
That  steeps  my  name  in  lasting  infamy. 

In  this  there  is  a  mixture  of  sensuality  and  soul,  of  despair 
and  amorous  fury,  that  surpasses  all  expression.  This  woman 
who  would  console  herself  for  an  eternity  of  pain  had  she  but 
enjoyed  a  single  moment  of  happiness — this  woman  is  not  repre 
sented  in  the  antique  character ;  she  is  the  reprobate  Christian; 
the  sinner  fallen  alive  into  the  hands  of  God ;  her  words  are  the 
words  of  the  self-cordenmed  to  everlasting  tortures. 


JULIA   D'ETANGE— CLEMENTINA.  277 


CHAPTER  IV. 

CONTINUATION    OF    THE   PRECEDING    SUBJECT. 
Julia  d'Etange — Clementina. 

BUT  now  the  scene  will  change  :  we  shall  hear  that  impas 
sioned  love,  so  terrible  in  the  Christian  Phasdra,  eliciting  only 
tender  sighs  from  the  bosom  of  the  pious  Julia ;  hers  is  the  voice 
of  melancholy,  issuing  from  the  sanctuary  of  peace.  Hers  are 
the  accents  of  love,  softened  and  prolonged  by  the  religious  echo 
of  the  holy  place. 

"  The  region  of  chimeras  is  the  only  one  in  this  world  that  is 
worth  living  in ;  and  such  is  the  vanity  of  all  human  things,  that, 
except  the  Supreme  Being,  there  is  nothing  excellent  but  what 

has  no  existence A  secret  languor  steals  through  the 

recesses  of  my  heart ;  it  feels  empty  and  unsatisfied,  as  you  told 
me  yours  formerly  did ;  my  attachment  to  whatever  is  dear  to  me 
is  not  sufficient  to  engage  it ;  a  useless  strength  is  left  which  it 
knows  not  what  to  do  with.  This  pain  is  extraordinary,  I  allow, 
but  it  is  not  the  less  real.  My  friend,  I  am  too  happy;  I  am 
weary  of  felicity 

"Finding,  therefore,  nothing  here  below  to  satisfy  its  craving, 
my  eager  soul  elsewhere  seeks  wherewith  to  fill  itself.  Soaring 
aloft  to  the  source  of  feeling  and  existence,  it  there  recovers  from 
its  languor  and  its  apathy.  It  is  there  regenerated  and  revived. 
It  there  receives  new  vigor  and  new  life.  It  acquires  a  new  ex 
istence  which  is  independent  of  the  passions  of  the  body;  or 
rather,  it  is  no  longer  attached  to  the  latter,  but  is  wholly  absorbed 
in  the  immense  Being  whom  it  contemplates;  and,  released  for  a 
moment  from  its  shackles,  it  returns  to  them  with  the  less  regret 
after  this  experience  of  a  more  sublime  state  which  it  hopes  at 
some  future  period  to  eujoy 

"When  reflecting  on  all  the  blessings  of  Providence  I  am 
ashamed  of  taking  to  heart  such  petty  troubles  and  forgetting 
euch  important  favors When,  in  spite  of  myself,  my 


278  CKNIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

melancholy  pursues  me,  a  few  tears  shed  before  Him  who  can  dis 
pense    comfort   instantly  soothe    my  heart.     My  reflections  are 
never  bitter  or  painful.     My  repentance  itself  is  devoid  of  ap 
prehensions.     My  faults  excite  in  me  less  fear  than  shame.     I 
am  acquainted  with  regret,  but  not  with  remorse. 

"  The  God  whom  I  serve  is  a  God  of  clemency,  a  Father  of  mer 
cies.  What  most  deeply  affects  me  is  his  goodness,  which,  in  my 
eyes,  eclipses  all  his  other  attributes.  It  is  the  only  one  of  which 
I  have  a  conception.  His  power  astonishes;  his  immensity  con 
founds;  his  justice He  has  made  man  feeble,  and 

he  is  merciful  because  he  is  just.  The  God  of  vengeance  is  the 
God  of  the  wicked  I  can  neither  fear  him  for  myself  nor  in 
voke  him  against  another.  Oh,  God  of  peace !  God  of  goodness  ! 
thee  I  adore!  Thy  work,  full  well  I  know  it,  I  am;  and  I  hope 
at  the  day  of  judgment  to  find  thee  such  as  thou  speakest  in  this 
life  to  my  troubled  heart." 

How  happily  are  love  and  religion  blended  in  this  picture! 
This  style,  these  sentiments,  have  no  parallel  in  antiquity.1 
What  folly  to  reject  a  religion  which  dictates  to  the  heart  such 
tender  accents,  and  which  has  added,  as  it  were,  new  powers  to 
the  soul ! 

Would  you  have  another  example  of  this  new  language  of  the 
passions,  unknown  under  the  system  of  polytheism  ?  Listen  to 
Clementina.  Her  expressions  are  still  more  unaffected,  more  pa 
thetic,  and  more  sublimely  natural,  than  Julia's : — 

"  This  one  thing  I  have  to  say — but  turn  your  face  another  way ; 
I  find  my  blushes  come  already.  Why,  Chevalier,  I  did  intend 
to  say — but  stay;  I  have  wrote  it  down  somewhere — [She  pulled 
out  her  pocket-book] — Here  it  is.  [She  read :]  '  Let  me  beseech 
you,  sir, — I  was  very  earnest,  you  see, — to  hate,  to  despise,  to  de 
test — now  don't  look  this  way — the  unhappy  Clementina  with  all 
your  heart;  but,  for  the  sake  of  your  immortal  soul,  let  me  con 
jure  you  to  be  reconciled  to  our  Holy  Mother  Church !'  Will 
you,  sir?  [following  my  averted  face  with  her  sweet  face;  for  I 
could  not  look  toward  her.]  Say  you  will.  Tender- hearted  man ! 
I  always  thought  you  had  sensibility.  Say  you  will, — not  for  my 

1  The  mixture,  however,  of  metapbjsicaland  natural  language  in  this  extract 
is  not  in  good  taste.  The  Almighty,  the  Lord,  would  be  better  than  source  of 
existence,  &G. 


JULIA  D'ETANGE— CLEMENTINA.  279 


sake.  I  told  you  that  I  would  content  myself  to  be  still  despised. 
It  shall  not  be  said  that  you  did  this  for  a  wife!  No,  sir;  your 
conscience  shall  have  all  the  merit  of  it! — and,  I'll  tell  you  what, 
I  will  lay  me  down  in  peace,  [She  stood  up  with  a  dignity  that 
was  augmented  by  her  piety;]  and  I  will  say,  'Now  do  thou,  0 
beckoning  angel  I' — for  an  angel  will  be  on  the  other  side  of  the- 
river;  the  river  shall  be  death,  sir, — 'now  do  thou  reach  out  thy 
divine  hand,  0  minister  of  peace!  I  will  wade  through  these 
separating  waters,  and  I  will  bespeak  a  place  for  the  man  who, 
many,  many  years  hence,  may  fill  it!'  and  I  will  sit  next  you  for 
ever  and  ever; — and  this,  sir,  shall  satisfy  the  poor  Clementina, 
who  will  then  be  richer  than  the  richest."1 

Christianity  proves  a  real  balm  for  our  wounds,  particularly 
at  those  times  when  the  passions,  after  furiously  raging  in  our 
bosoms,  begin  to  subside,  either  from  misfortune  or  from  the 
length  of  their  duration.  It  lulls  our  woes,  it  strengthens  our 


1  It  would  have  been  much  to  our  author's  purpose  to  have  expatiated  more 
at  large  upon  the  works  of  Richardson,  as  he  has  founded  the  excellence  of  his 
good  characters  entirely  upon  a  Christian  basis.  He  h;is  exemplified  the  beau 
tiful  ideal  of  human  nature.  The  characters  of  Clementina,  Sir  Charles  Grandi- 
son,  and  Clarissa  Harlowe,  are  the  most  virtuous,  amiable,  accomplished,  and 
noble  that  can  well  be  imagined.  They  are  supported  with  strict  propriety. 
are  elevatad  by  uncommon  dignity,  and  charm  the  reader  while  they  com 
mand  his  admiration.  They  show  that  mankind  are  truly  happy  only  in  pro 
portion  as  they  listen  to  the  dictates  of  conscience  and  follow  the  path  of  duty. 
Where  could  Richardson,  a  bookseller  and  a  printer,  immersed  in  the  occupa 
tion  of  his  shop  and  his  press,  acquire  such  a  correct  acquaintance  with  high 
life  and  refined  society, — such  exalted  sentiments  of  religion,  honor,  love,  friend 
ship,  and  philanthropy, — as  he  has  displayed  in  his  works?  Where  did  he  ac 
quire  such  a  command  over  our  feelings, — such  a  power  "to  ope  the  sacred 
source  of  sympathetic  tears"? 

The  best  answer  to  these  questions  is  that  he  derived  these  treasures  from 
the  rich  resources  of  his  own  mind,  from  the  study  of  the  BIBLE,  and  a  quick 
insight  into  human  nature  and  human  character.  He  has  been  justly  styled 
"the  great  master  of  the  human  heart,"  "the  Shakspeare  of  Romance."  (H,«- 
riasa  Harlowe  and  Sir  Charles  Grandison  are  long  works,  because  they  are  de 
signed  to  develop  the  springs  of  human  action,  and  to  give  a  distinct  view  of 
the  progressive,  various,  and  complex  movements  of  the  human  mind.  Pro 
lixity  is  made  the  oretext  of  the  frivolous  novel-readers  of  the  present  age  to 
neglect  these  invaluable  works ;  although,  if  they  be  weighed  in  the  balance 
of  literary  justice,  they  will  be  found  to  comprise  as  much,  if  not  more, 
sterling  excellence  than  half  the  novels  that  have  been  written  since  their 
publication. 


280  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

wavering  resolution,  it  prevents  relapses  by  combating  the  dan- 
gerous  power  of  memory  in  a  soul  scarcely  yet  cured.  It  sheds 
around  us  peace,  fragrance,  and  light.  It  restores  to  us  that 
harmony  of  the  spheres  which  was  heard  by  Pythagoras  during 
the  silence  of  his  passions.  As  it  promises  a  recompense  for 
every  sacrifice,  we  seem  to  be  giving  up  nothing  for  it  when  we 
are  giving  up  every  thing.  As  it  presents,  at  each  successive 
step,  a  still  more  lovely  object  to  our  desires,  it  gratifies  the  na 
tural  inconstancy  of  our  hearts.  It  fills  us  with  the  ecstasies  of 
a  love  which  is  always  beginning,  and  this  love  is  ineffable,  be 
cause  its  mysteries  are  those  of  purity  and  innocence. 


CHAPTER  V. 

CONTINUATION    OF   THE    PRECEDING    SUBJECT. 

Eloisa. 

JULIA  was  brought  to  a  sense  of  religion  by  ordinary  disap 
pointments.  She  continued  in  the  world,  and,  being  constrained 
to  conceal  from  it  the  passion  of  her  heart,  she  betook  "herself  in 
secret  to  God,  certain  of  finding  in  this  indulgent  Father  a  pity 
which  her  fellow-creatures  would  have  refused  her.  She  delights 
to  pour  forth  her  confessions  before  the  Supreme  Judge,  because 
he  alone  has  the  power  to  absolve  her,  and  perhaps  also — involun 
tary  relic  of  her  weakness ! — because  it  affords  her  an  opportunity 
of  calling  to  mind  her  love. 

If  we  find  such  relief  from  the  communication  of  our  sorrows 
to  some  superior  mind,  to  some  peaceful  conscience,  which 
strengthens  and  enables  us  to  share  the  tranquillity  which  itself 
enjoys,  how  soothing  must  it  be  to  address  ourselves  on  the  sub 
ject  of  our  passions  to  that  impassible  Being  whom  our  secrets 
cannot  disturb,  and  to  complain  of  our  frailty  to  that  Omnipotent 
Deity  who  can  impart  to  us  some  of  his  strength !  We  may  form 
some  conception  of  the  transports  of  those  holy  men  who,  retiring 
to  the  summits  of  mountains,  placed  their  whole  life  at  the  feet 


ELOISA.  281 


of  God,  penetrated  by  means  of  love  into  the  region  of  eternity, 
and  at  length  soared  to  the  contemplation  of  primitive  light. 
Julia's  end,  unknown  to  herself,  approaches;  but  when  she  first 
perceives  the  shadows  of  the  tomb  that  begin  to  involve  her,  a 
ray  of  divine  excellence  beams  from  her  eyes.  The  voice  of  this 
dying  female  is  soft  and  plaintive.  It  is  like  the  last  rustling 
of  the  winds  sweeping  over  the  forests, — the  last  murmurs  of  a 
sea  forsaking  its  shores. 

The  accents  of  Eloisa  are  stronger.  The  wife  of  Abelard,  she 
lives  and  lives  for  God.1  Her  afflictions  have  been  equally  unex 
pected  and  severe.  Cut  off  from  the  world  and  plunged  into  soli 
tude,  she  has  been  ushered  suddenly,  and  with  all  her  fire,  into 
the  privacy  of  the  cloister.  Religion  and  love  at  once  sway  her 
heart.  It  is  rebellious  nature  seized,  while  full  of  energy,  by  grace, 
and  vainly  struggling  in  the  embraces  of  heaven.  Give  Racine 
to  Eloisa  for  an  interpreter,  and  the  picture  of  her  woes  will  bo 
a  thousand  times  more  impressive  than  that  of  Dido's  misfor 
tunes,  from  the  tragical  effect,  the  place  of  the  scene,  and  a  cer 
tain  awfulness  which  Christianity  throws  around  objects  to  which 
it  communicates  its  grandeur. 

In  these  deep  solitudes  and  awful  cells, 
Where  heavenly  pensive  contemplation  dwells, 
And  ever-musing  melancholy  reigns, 
What  means  this  tumult  in  a  vestal's  veins? 
Why  rove  my  thoughts  beyond  this  last  retreat? 
Why  feels  my  heart  its  long-forgotten  heat? 

Yet,  yet  I  love ! 

Ah,  wretch !  believed  the  spouse  of  God  in  vain — 
Confessed  within  the  slave  of  love  and  man. 


1  Abelard,  a  distinguished  dialectician  of  France  in  the  twelfth  century,  has 
acquired  more  renown  by  his  amours  with  Eloisa  than  by  his  subtlety  and 
learning.  The  author  calls  Eloisa  his  wife;  for,  although  their  intercourse  at 
"first  was  only  that  of  lovers,  they  were  afterward  secretly  married.  This  cir 
cumstance,  however,  did  not  suffice  to  appease  Eloisa's  uncle,  who,  indignant 
at  the  seduction  of  his  neice,  caused  a  serious  injury  to  be  inflicted  upon  the 
body  of  Abelard.  The  latter,  to  conceal  his  disgrace,  retired  into  the  monastery 
of  St.  Denys,  and  subsequently  gathered  around  him  an  immense  number  of 
students.  His  teaching,  however,  was  infected  with  various  errors,  which  were 
condemned  in  his  own  country  and  at  Home.  Abelard  repented  both  of  his  errors 
and  his  pleasures  before  his  death,  which  took  place  iu  1142.  After  the  dis 
grace  of  her  consort,  Eloisa  also  retired  into  a  convent,  where  she  led  a  holy  life.  T. 
24* 


282  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


Assist  rue,  heaven  !  but  whence  arose  that  prayer 

Sprung  it  from  piety,  or  from  despair? 

Even  here,  where  frozen  chastity  retires, 

Love  finds  an  altar  for  forbidden  fires. 

I  ought  to  grieve,  but  cannot  what  I  ought; 

I  mourn  the  lover,  not  lament  the  fault; 

I  view  my  crime,  but  kindle  at  the  view, 

Repent  old  pleasures,  ancf  solicit  new; 

Now,  turned  to  heaven,  I  weep  my  past  offence, 

Now  think  of  thee,  and  curse  my  innocence. 

Oh  come !  Oh  teach  me  nature  to  subdue — 
Renounce  my  love,  my  life,  myself,  and  you; 
Fill  my  fond  heart  with  God  alone,  for  he 
Alone  can  rival — can  succeed  to  thee.1 

It  would  be  impossible  for  antiquity  to  furnish  such  a  scene, 
because  it  had  not  such  a  religion.  You  may  take  for  your 
heroine  a  Greek  or  Roman  vestal;  but  never  will  you  be  able  to 
produce  that  conflict  between  the  flesh  and  the  spirit  which  con 
stitutes  all  the  charm  in  the  situation  of  Eloisa,  and  which  be 
longs  to  the  Christian  doctrine  and  morality.  Recollect  that  you 
here  find  united  the  most  impetuous  of  the  passions  and  a  com 
manding  religion  which  never  submits  to  any  compromise  with 
carnal  appetites.  Eloisa  loves;  Eloisa  burns;  but  within  the 
convent  walls  every  thing  calls  upon  her  to  quench  her  earthly 
fires,  and  she  knows  that  everlasting  torments  or  endless  rewards 
await  her  fall  or  her  triumph.  No  accommodation  is  to  be  ex 
pected.  The  creature  and  the  Creator  cannot  dwell  together  in 
the  same  soul.  Dido  loses  only  an  ungrateful  lover.  How 
different  the  anguish  that  rends  the  heart  of  Eloisa!  She  is 
compelled  to  choose  between  God  and  a  faithful  lover  whom  she 
has  involved  in  misfortunes.  Neither  must  she  flatter  herself 
that  she  shall  be  able  to  devote  the  smallest  portion  of  her  heart 
to  Abelard.  The  God  of  Sinai  is  a  jealous  God — a  God  who  in 
sists  on  being  loved  in  preference — who  punishes  the  very  shadow 
of  a  thought,  nay,  even  the  dream,  that  is  occupied  with  any  other 
object  than  himself. 

We  shall  here  take  the  liberty  of  remarking  an  error  into 
which  Colardeau  has  fallen,  because  it  is  tinctured  with  the 
spirit  of  his  age,  and  strongly  tends  to  illustrate  the  subject 
of  which  we  are  treating.  •  His  translation  of  the  epistle  from 

1  Pope's  Eloisa. 


ELOISA.  283 


Eloisa  has  a  philosophic  cast,  which  is  far  different  from  the  truly 
poetical  spirit  of  Pope.  After  the  passage  quoted  above,  we  find 
these  lines : — 

Dear  sisters,  guiltless  partners  of  my  chains, 

Who  know  not  Eloisa's  amorous  pains; 

Ye  captive  doves,  within  these  hallowed  walls, 

To  none  obedient  but  Religion's  calls : 

In  whom  her  feeble  virtues  only  shine, — 

Those  virtues,  now,  alas  !  no  lunger  mine: 

Who  ne'er  amid  the  convent's  languors  prove 

The  almighty  empire  of  tyrannic  love; 

Who  with  a  heavenly  spouse  alone  content, 

Love  but  from  habit,  not  from  sentiment; 

How  smoothly  glide  your  days,  your  nights  how  free 

From  all  the  pangs  of  sensibility ! 

By  storms  of  passion  as  unvexed  they  roll, 

Ah  !  with  what  envy  do  they  fill  the  soul!1 

These  lines,  it  is  true,  are  not  deficient  either  in  ease  or  tender 
ness  j  but  they  are  not  to  be  found  in  the  English  poet.  Faint 
indeed  are  the  traces  of  them  discoverable  in  the  following 
passage : — 

How  happy  is  the  blameless  vestal's  lot, 
The  world  forgetting,  by  the  world  forgot ! 
Eternal  sunshine  of  the  spotless  mind, 
Each  prayer  accepted  and  each  wish  resigned ; 
Labor  and  rest,  that  equal  periods  keep; 
Obedient  slumbers,  that  can  wake  and  weep; 
Desires  composed,  affections  ever  even, 
Tears  that  delight,  and  sighs  that  waft  to  heaven. 
Grace  shines  around  her  with  serenest  beams, 
And  whispering  angels  prompt  her  golden  dreams; 
For  her  the  unfading  rose  of  Eden  blooms, 
And  wings  of  seraphs  shed  divine  perfumes ; 
To  sounds  of  heavenly  harps  she  dies  away, 
And  melts  in  visions  of  eternal  day.2 

It  is  difficult  to  conceive  how  a  poet  could  have  prevailed  upon 
himself  to  substitute  a  wretched  commonplace  on  monastic  lan 
guors  for  this  exquisite  description.  Who  is  so  blind  as  not  to 
see  how  beautiful,  how  dramatic,  is  the  contrast  which  Pope  in 
tended  to  produce  between  the  pains  of  Eloisa's  love  and  the 
serenity  and  chastity  of  a  religious  life  ?  Who  is  so  dull  as  not 

1  Translation  of  F.  Shoberl.  2  Pope's  Eloisa. 


284  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

to  perceive  how  sweetly  this  transition  soothes  the  soul  agitated 
by  the  passions,  and  what  heightened  interest  it  afterward  gives 
to  the  renewed  operations  of  these  same  passions?  Whatever 
may  be  the  value  of  philosophy,  it  certainly  does  not  become  it 
to  act  a  part  in  the  troubles  of  the  heart,  because  its  object  should 
be  to  appease  them.  Eloisa,  philosophizing  on  the  feeble  virtues 
of  religion,  neither  speaks  the  language  of  truth  nor  of  her  age, 
neither  of  a  woman  nor  of  love  We  here  discover  nothing  but 
the  poet,  and,  what  is  still  worse,  the  era  of  sophistry  and  decla 
mation. 

Thus  it  is  that  the  spirit  of  irreligion  invariably  subverts  truth 
and  spoils  the  movements  of  nature.  Pope,  who  lived  in  better 
times,  has  not  fallen  into  the  same  error  as  Colardeau.1  He 
retained  the  worthy  spirit  of  the  age  of  Louis  XIV.,  of  which  the 
age  of  Queen  Anne  was  a  kind  of  prolongation  or  reflection.  We 
must  go  back  to  religious  ideas,  if  we  attach  any  value  to  works 
of  genius;  religion  is  the  genuine  philosophy  of  the  fine  arts, 
because,  unlike  human  wisdom,  it  separates  not  poetry  from 
morality  or  tenderness  from  virtue. 

On  the  subject  of  Eloisa  many  other  interesting  observations 
might  be  made  in  regard  to  the  solitary  convent  in  which  the 
scene  is  laid.  The  cloisters,  the  vaults,  the  tombs,  the  austere 
manners,  contrasted  with  all  the  circumstances  of  love,  must 
augment  its  force  and  heighten  its  melancholy.  What  a  vast 
difference  between  the  Queen  of  Carthage  seeking  a  speedy  death 
on  the  funeral  pile,  and  Eloisa  slowly  consuming  herself  on  the 
altar  of  religion  !  But  we  shall  speak  at  length  on  the  subject 
of  convents  in  another  part  of  our  work. 

1  Pope,  moreover,  being  a  Catholic,  could  not  have  drawn  the  false  picture 
ol  conventual  life  which  fell  from  the  pen  of  the  infidel  Colardeau.     T. 


THE   CYCLOP  AND   GALATEA.  285 


CHAPTER  VI. 

RURAL    LOVE. 

The  Cyclop  and  Galatea  of  Theocritus. 

As  a  subject  of  comparison  among  the  ancients  under  the 
head  of  rural  love,  we  shall  select  the  idyl  of  the  Cyclop  and 
Galatea.  This  little  poem  is  one  of  the  master-pieces  of  Theo 
critus.  The  Sorceress  is  superior  to  it  in  warmth  of  passion,  hut 
it  is  less  pastoral. 

The  Cyclop,  seated  upon  a  rock  on  the  coast  of  Sicily,  thus 
gives  vent  to  his  pain,  while  overlooking  the  billows  that  roll 
beneath  him  : — 

"  Charming  Galatea,  why  dost  thou  scorn  the  attentions  of  a 
lover,  thou  whose  face  is  fair  as  the  curd  pressed  by  the  soft  net 
work  of  rushes  ? thou  who  art  more  tender  than  the 

lamb,  more  lovely  than  the  heifer,  fresher  than  the  grape  not  yet 
softened  by  the  sun's  powerful  rays  ?  Thou  glidest  along  these 
shores  when  sound  slumbers  enchain  me;  thou  fleest  me  when  I 
am  not  visited  by  refreshing  sleep;  thou  fearest  me  as  the  lamb 
fears  the  wolf  grown  gray  with  years.  Never  have  I  ceased  to 
adore  thee  since  thou  earnest  with  my  mother  to  pluck  the  young 
hyacinths  on  the  mountains:  it  was  I  who  guided  thy  steps. 
From  that  day  even  to  the  present  moment  I  find  it  impossible 
to  live  without  thee.  And  yet,  dost  thou  heed  my  pains  ?  In 
the  name  of  Jupiter,  hast  thou  any  feeling  for  my  anguish  ?  .  .  . 
But,  unsightly  as  I  am,  I  have  a  thousand  ewes  whose  rich  udders 
my  hand  presses  and  whose  foaming  milk  is  my  beverage.  Sum 
mer,  autumn,  and  winter,  always  find  cheeses  in  my  cavern;  my 
nets  are  always  full  of  them.  No  Cyclop  could  play  so  well  to 
thee  upon  the  pastoral  reed  as  I  can,  0  lovely  maiden  !  None 
could  with  such  skill  celebrate  all  thy  charms  during  the  storms 
of  night.  For  thee  I  am  rearing  eleven  does  which  are  ready 
to  drop  their  fawns.  I  am  also  bringing  up  four  bears'  cubs 


286  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

stolen  from  their  savage  mothers.  Come,  and  all  these  riches 
shall  be  thine.  Let  the  sea  furiously  lash  its  shores  ;  thy  nights 
shall  be  more  happy  if  thou  wilt  pass  them  in  my  cave  by  my 
side.  Laurels  and  tall  cypresses  murmur  there;  the  dark  ivy 
and  the  vine  laden  with  clusters  line  its  dusky  sides;  close  to  it 
runs  a  limpid  stream  which  white  JFAna  discharges  from  his 
snow-clad  summits  and  down  his  sides  covered  with  brown  forests. 
What!  wouldst  thou  still  prefer  the  sea  and  its  thousands  of 
billows?  If  my  hairy  bosom  offends  thy  sight,  I  have  oak  wood 
and  live  embers  remaining  beneath  the  ashes;  burn, — for  any 
thing  from  thy  hand  will  give  me  pleasure, — burn,  if  thou  wilt, 
mine  only  eye,  this  eye,  which  is  dearer  to  me  than  life  itself 
Ah !  why  did  not  my  mother  give  to  me,  as  to  the  fish,  light  oars 
wherewith  to  cleave  the  liquid  waves !  0  1  how  I  would  theo 
descend  to  my  Galatea !  how  I  would  kiss  her  hand  if  she  refused 
me  her  lips!  Yes,  I  would  bring  the  white  lilies,  or  tender 
poppies  with  purple  leaves;  the  first  grow  in  summer,  and  the 
others  adorn  the  winter,  so  that  I  could  not  present  them  both  to 

thee  at  once 

"  In  this  manner  did  Polyphemus  apply  to  his  wounded  heart 
the  immortal  balm  of  the  Muses,  thus  soothing  the  sorrows  of 
life  more  sweetly  than  he  could  have  done  by  any  thing  that  gold 
can  purchase." 

This  idyl  breathes  the  fire  of  passion.  The  poet  could  not 
have  made  choice  of  words  more  delicate  or  more  harmonious. 
The  Doric  dialect  also  gives  to  his  verses  a  tone  of  simplicity 
which  cannot  be  transfused  into  our  language.  The  frequent 
repetition  of  the  first  letter  of  the  alphabet,  and  a  broad  and 
open  pronunciation,  seem  to  represent  the  tranquillity  of  the 
scenes  and  the  unaffected  language  of  the  shepherd.  The 
naturalness  of  the  Cyclop's  lament  is  also  remarkable.  He  speaks 
from  the  heart;  yet  no  one  would  suspect  for  a  moment  that  his 
sighs  are  any  thing  else  than  the  skilful  imitation  of  a  poet.  With 
what  simplicity  and  warmth  does  the  unhappy  lover  depict  his 
own  ugliness !  Even  that  eye,  which  renders  him  so  offensive, 
suggests  to  Theocritus  an  affecting  idea:  so  true  is  the  remark 
of  iristotle,  conveyed  by  Boileau  in  these  lines  : — 

D'un  pinceau  d^licat  I'artifiee  agreable 

Du  plus  affreux  objet  fait  un  objet  aimable. 


PAUL   AND   VIRGINIA.  287 


It  is  well  known  that  the  moderns,  and  the  French  in  par 
ticular,  have  riot  been  very  successful  in  pastoral  composition.1 
We  are  of  opinion,  however,  that  Bernardin  de  Saint- Pierre  has 
surpassed  the  bucolic  writers  of  Italy  and  Greece.  His  novel,  01 
rather  his  poem,  of  Paul  and  Virginia,  belongs  to  the  small 
number  of  works  which  in  a  few  years  acquire  an  antiquity  that 
authorizes  us  to  quote  them  without  being  afraid  of  having  our 
taste  called  in  question. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

CONTINUATION    OF   THE   PRECEDING    SUBJECT. 

Paul  and  Virginia. 

THE  old  man  seated  on  the  mountain  relates  the  history  of  the 
two  exiled  families;  he  gives  an  account  of  their  labors,  their 
loves,  their  sports,  and  their  cares. 

"Paul  and  Virginia  had  neither  clocks  nor  almanacs,  neither 
books  of  chronology,  history,  nor  philosophy.  The  periods  of 
their  lives  were  regulated  by  those  of  nature.  They  knew  the 
hours  of  the  day  by  the  shadow  of  the  trees ;  the  seasons  by  the 
times  when  they  produce  their  flowers  or  their  fruits ;  and  the 
years  by  the  number  of  their  harvests.  These  pleasing  images 
imparted  the  greatest  charms  to  their  conversation.  <'Tis  din 
ner-time/  said  Virginia  to  the  family :  l  the  shadows  of  the 
bananas  are  at  their  feet;'  or,  'night  approaches:  the  tamarind- 
trees  are  shutting  up  their  leaves/  l  When  will  you  come  to  see 
us?'  asked  some  young  friends  who  lived  not  far  off.  'In 
cane-time,'  replied  Virginia.  When  any  person  inquired  her 

1  The  Revolution  deprived  us  of  a  man  who  gave  promise  of  first-rate  talents 
in  the  eclogue;  we  allude  to  Andre  Chenier.  We  have  seen  a  collection  of 
manuscript  idyls  by  him,  in  which  there  are  passages  worthy  of  Theocritus. 
This  explains  the  expression  used  by  that  unfortunate  young  man  when  upon 
ehe  scaffold.  "Die!"  exclaimed  he,  striking  his  forehead;  "and  yet  I  had 
something  here  !"  It  was  the  Muse  revealing  his  talents  to  him  at  the  moment 
of  death.— See  note  P. 


288  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

age,  or  that  of  Paul,  she  would  answer,  'My  brother  is  as  old 
as  the  great  cocoa-tree  beside  the  fountain,  and  I  am  as  old  as 
the  smaller;  the  mangoes  have  borne  fruit  twelve  times,  and  the 
orange-trees  have  flowered  twice  as  often,  since  I  was  born.' 
Their  lives  seemed  to  be  attached  to  those  of  the  trees,  like  the 
existence  of  the  fauns  and  dryads.  They  knew  no  other  his 
torical  epochs  than  those  of  their  mothers'  lives,  no  other  chro 
nology  than  that  of  the  orchards,  and  no  other  philosophy  than 
that  of  doing  good  to  everybody,  and  of  resignation  to  the  will 
of  the  Almighty 

11  Sometimes,  when  alone  with  Virginia,  Paul  said  to  her  on 
his  return  from  work,  'When  I  am  fatigued,  the  sight  of  you 
refreshes  me;  and  when  from  the  top  of  the  hill  I  look  down 
into  this  valley,  you  look  just  like  a  rose-bud  in  the  midst  of  our 
orchards.  .  .  .  Though  I  lose  sight  of  you  among  the  trees,  still 
I  discern  something  of  you  which  I  .cannot  describe  in  the  air 
through  which  you  pass  or  on  the  turf  upon  which  you  have 
been  sitting 

" '  Tell  me  by  what  spell  you  have  enchanted  me.  It  cannot 
be  by  your  understanding,  for  our  mothers  have  more  than  we. 
Neither  is  it  by  your  caresses,  for  they  kiss  me  much  oftener  than 
you.  I  suppose  it  must  be  by  your  kindness.  Here,  my  beloved, 
take  this  citron  branch  covered  with  blossom,  which  I  broke  in 
the  forest.  Place  it  at  night  beside  your  bed.  Eat  this  honey 
comb,  which  I  climbed  to  the  top  of  a  rock  to  take  for  you ;  but 
fii&t  sit  down  on  my  knee,  and  I  shall  be  refreshed/ 

"'Oh  my  brother!'  Virginia  would  reply,  'the  beams  of  the 
morning  sun  that  gild  the  summits  of  these  rocks  give  me  less 

joy  than  your  presence You  ask  why  you  love  me. 

Have  not  all  those  creatures  that  are  brought  up  together  a  mu 
tual  affection  for  each  other  ?  Look  at  our  birds,  reared  in  the 
same  nests ;  they  love  like  us,  and,  like  us,  they  are  always  to 
gether.  Hear  how  they  call  and  answer  one  another  from  tree  to 
tree;  just  as,  when  echo  wafts  to  me  the  notes  which  you  play  on 
your  flute,  I  repeat  the  words  at  the  bottom  of  this  valley.  .  .  . 
...  I  daily  pray  to  God  for  my  mother  and  yours,  for  you  and 
for  our  poor  servants ;  but  when  I  pronounce  your  name  my  fer 
vor  seems  to  increase.  How  ardently  I  implore  the  Almighty 
that  no  misfortune  may  befall  you  !  Why  do  you  go  so  far  and 


PAUL   AND   VIRGINIA.  289 


climb  so  high  in  quest  of  fruits  and  flowers  for  Dae  ?  Have  we 
not  plenty  in  the  garden  ?  How  you  have  fatigued  yourself ! 
You  are  bathed  in  sweat !'  With  these  words  she  wiped  his 
forehead  and  his  cheeks  with  her  little  white  handkerchief,  and 
gave  him  several  kisses." 

The  point  to  be  examined  in  this  picture  is  not  why  it  is  supe 
rior  to  that  of  Galatea,  (a  superiority  too  evident  not  to  be  ac 
knowledged  by  every  reader,)  but  why  it  owes  its  excellence  to 
religion,  and,  in  a  word,  in  what  way  it  is  Christian. 

It  is  certain  that  the  charm  of  Paul  and  Virginia  consists  in  a 
sertain  pensive  morality  which  pervades  the  whole  work,  and 
which  may  be  compared  to  that  uniform  radiance  which  the  moon 
throws  upon  a  wilderness  bedecked  with  flowers.  Now,  whoever 
has  meditated  upon  the  truths  of  the  gospel  must  admit  that  its 
divine  precepts  have  precisely  this  solemn  and  affecting  character. 
Saint-Pierre,  who,  in  his  Studies  of  Nature,  endeavors  to  justify 
the  ways  of  God  and  to  demonstrate  the  beauty  of  religion,  must 
have  nourished  his  genius  by  the  perusal  of  the  sacred  volume. 
If  his  eclogue  is  so  pathetic,  it  is  because  it  represents  two  little 
exiled  Christian  families,  living  under  the  eye  of  the  Lord,  guided 
by  his  word  in  the  Bible  and  his  works  in  the  desert.  To  this 
add  indigence  and  those  afflictions  of  the  soul  for  which  religion 
affords  the  only  remedy,  and  you  will  have  the  whole  of  the  sub 
ject.  The  characters  are  as  simple  as  the  plot :  they  are  two 
charming  children,  whose  cradle  and  whose  grave  are  brought  under 
your  notice,  two  faithful  slaves,  and  two  pious  mistresses.  These 
good  people  have  a  historian  every  way  worthy  of  their  lives  :  an 
old  man  residing  alone  upon  the  mountain,  and  who  has  survived 
all  that  he  loved,  relates  to  the  traveller  the  misfortunes  of  hi,s 
friends  over  the  ruins  of  their  cottages. 

We  may  observe  that  these  Southern  bucolics  are  full  of  allu 
sions  to  the  Scriptures.  In  one,  we  are  reminded  of  Ruth,  of 
Sephora ;  in  another,  of  Eden  and  our  first  parents.  These  sacred 
recollections  throw  an  air  of  antiquity  over  the  scenes  of  the 
whole  picture,  by  introducing  into  it  the  manners  of  the  primitive 
East.  The  mass,  the  prayers,  the  sacraments,  the  ceremonies  of 
the  Church,  to  which  the  author  is  every  moment  referring,  like 
wise  shed  their  spiritual  beauty  over  the  work.  Is  not  the  mys 
terious  dream  of  Madame  de  la  Tour  essentially  connected  with 


290  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

what  is  grand  and  pathetic  in  our  religious  doctrines  ?  We  also 
discover  the  Christian  in  those  lessons  of  resignation  to  the  will 
of  God,  of  obedience  to  parents,  charity  to  the  poor,  strictness  in 
tLe  performance  of  the  duties  of  religion, — in  a  word,  in  the 
whole  of  that  delightful  theology  which  pervades  the  poem  cf 
Saint-Pierre.  We  may  even  go  still  farther,  and  assert  that  it  is 
religion,  in  fact,  which  determines  the  catastrophe.  Virginia 
dies  for  the  preservation  of  one  of  the  principal  virtues  enjoined 
by  Christianity.  It  would  have  been  absurd  to  make  a  Grecian 
woman  die  for  refusing  to  expose  her  person ;  but  the  lover  of 
Paul  is  a  Christian  virgin,  and  what  would  be  ridiculous  accord 
ing  to  the  impure  notions  of  heathenism  becomes  in  this  instance 
sublime. 

This  pastoral  is  not  like  the  idyls  of  Theocritus,  or  the  eclogues 
of  Virgil ;  neither  does  it  exactly  resemble  the  grand  rural  scenes 
of  Hesiod,  Homer,  and  the  Bible ;  but,  like  the  parable  of  the 
Good  Shepherd,  it  produces  an  ineffable  effect,  and  you  are  con 
vinced  that  none  but  a  Christian  could  have  related  the  evan 
gelical  loves  of  Paul  and  Virginia. 

It  will  perhaps  be  objected  that  it  is  not  the  charm  borrowed 
from  the  sacred  Scriptures  which  confers  on  Saint-Pierre  the 
superiority  over  Theocritus,  but  his  talent  for  delineating  nature. 
To  this  we  reply  that  he  owes  this  talent  also,  or  at  least  the  de 
velopment  of  this  talent,  to  Christianity ;  since  it  is  this  religion 
which  has  driven  the  petty  divinities  from  the  forests  and  the 
waters,  and  has  thus  enabled  him  to  represent  the  deserts  in  all 
their  majesty.  This  we  shall  attempt  to  demonstrate  when  we 
come  to  treat  of  mythology  j  let  us  now  proceed  with  the  investi 
gation  of  the  passions. 


THE   CHRISTIAN   RELIGION   A   PASSION.  291 

CHAPTER  VIII. 

THE    CHRISTIAN   RELIGION    ITSELF    CONSIDERED   AS   A   PASSION. 

NOT  satisfied  with  enlarging  the  sphere  of  the  passions  in  the 
drama  and  the  epic  poem,  the  Christian  religion  is  itself  a  species 
of  passion,  which  has  its  transports,  its  ardors,  its  sighs,  its  joys, 
its  tears,  its  love  of  society  and  of  solitude.  This,  as  we  know, 
is  by  the  present  age  denominated  fanaticism.  We  might  reply 
in  the  words  of  Rousseau,  which  are  truly  remarkable  in  the 
mouth  of  a  philosopher :  "  Fanaticism,  though  sanguinary  and 
cruel,1  is  nevertheless  a  great  and  powerful  passion,  which  exalts 
the  heart  of  man,  which  inspires  him  with  a  contempt  of  death, 
which  gives  him  prodigious  energy,  and  which  only  requires  to 
be  judiciously  directed  in  order  to  produce  the  most  sublime  vir 
tues.  On  the  other  hand,  irreligion,  and  a  reasoning  and  philo 
sophic  spirit  in  general,  strengthens  the  attachment  to  life,  debases 
the  soul  and  renders  it  effeminate,  concentrates  all  the  passions  in 
the  meanness  of  private  interest,  in  the  abject  motive  of  self,  and 
thus  silently  saps  the  real  foundations  of  all  society ;  for  so  trifling 
are  the  points  in  which  private  interests  are  united,  that  they  will 
never  counterbalance  those  in  which  they  oppose  one  another."* 

But  this  is  not  the  question ;  we  treat  at  present  only  of  dra 
matic  eifect.  Now,  Christianity  considered  itself  as  a  passion 
supplies  the  poet  with  immense  treasures.  This  religious  passion 
is  the  stronger  as  it  is  in  contradiction  to  all  others,  and  must 
swallow  them  up  to  exist  itself.  Like  all  the  great  affections, 
it  is  profoundly  serious ;  it  attracts  us  to  the  shade  of  convents 
and  of  mountains.  The  beauty  which  the  Christian  adores  is  not 
perishable ;  it  is  that  eternal  beauty  for  which  Plato's  disciples 
were  so  anxious  to  quit  the  earth.  Here  below  she  always  ap 
pears  veiled  to  her  lovers ;  she  shrouds  herself  in  the  folds  of  the 
universe  as  in  a  mantle ;  for  if  but  one  of  her  glances  were  to 
meet  the  eye  and  pierce  the  heart  of  man,  unable  to  endure  it  he 
would  expire  with  transport. 

i  Is  Philosophy  less  so  ?  2  Emilc,  tome  iii.  p.  193,  note. 


292  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

To  attain  the  enjoyment  of  this  supreme  beauty,  Christians 
take  a  very  different  course  from  that  which  the  Athenian  philo 
sophers  pursued ;  they  remain  in  this  world  in  order  to  multiply 
their  sacrifices,  and  to  render  themselves  more  worthy,  by  a  long 
purification,  of  the  object  of  their  desires. 

Whoever,  according  to  the  expression  of  the  Fathers,  have  the 
least  possible  commerce  with  the  flesh,  and  descend  in  innocence 
to  the  grave, — such  souls,  relieved  from  doubts  and  fears,  wing 
their  flight  to  the  regions  of  life,  where  in  never-ending  trans 
ports  they  contemplate  that  which  is  true,  immutable,  and  above 
the  reach  of  opinion.  How  many  glorious  martyrs  has  this  hope 
of  possessing  God  produced !  What  solitude  has  not  heard  the 
sighs  of  illustrious  rivals  contending  for  the  enjoyment  of  Him 
who  is  adored  by  the  cherubim  and  seraphim  ?  Here  an  Anthony 
erects  an  altar  in  the  desert,  and  for  the  space  of  forty  years  sacri 
fices  himself,  unknown  to  all  mankind ;  there  a  St.  Jerome  for 
sakes  Home,  crosses  the  seas,  and,  like  Elias,  seeks  a  retreat  on 
the  banks  of  the  Jordan.  Even  there  hell  leaves  him  not  un 
molested,  and  the  attractive  figure  of  Rome,  decked  with  all  her 
charms,  appears  in  the  forests  to  torment  him.  He  sustains 
dreadful  assaults;  he  fights  hand-to-hand  with  his  passions.  His 
weapons  are  tears,  fasting,  study,  penance,  and,  above  all,  love. 
He  falls  at  the  feet  of  the  divine  beauty,  and  implores  its  succor. 
Sometimes,  like  a  criminal  doomed  to  the  most  laborious  toils,  he 
loads  his  shoulders  with  a  burden  of  scorching  sand,  to  subdue 
the  rebellious  flesh,  and  to  extinguish  the  unholy  desires  which 
address  themselves  to  the  creature. 

Massillon,  describing  this  sublime  love,  exclaims,  "  To  such  the 
Lord  alone  appears  good  and  faithful  and  true,  constant  in  his 
promises,  amiable  in  his  indulgence,  magnificent  in  his  gifts,  real 
in  his  tenderness,  merciful  even  in  his  wrath ;  he  alone  appears 
great  enough  to  fill  the  whole  immensity  of  our  hearts,  powerful 
enough  to  satisfy  all  its  desires,  generous  enough  to  soothe  ail 
its  woes ;  he  alone  appears  immortal,  and  worthy  of  our  endless 
affection;  finally,  he  alone  excites  no  regret,  except  that  we 
learned  too  late  to  love  him."1 

The  author  of  the  Following  of  Christ  has  selected  from  St 

1  La  Pecheresse,  part  i. 


THE   CHRISTIAN   RELIGION   A   PASSION.  298 


Augustine  and  the  other  Fathers  whatever  is  most  mystic  and 
most  ardent  in  the  language  of  divine  love.1 

"The  love  of  God  is  generous;  it  impels  the  soul  to  great  ac 
tions,  and  excites  in  it  the  desire  of  that  which  is  most  perfect. 

"  Love  always  aspires  to  a  higher  sphere,  and  suffers  not  itself 
tc  be  detained  by  base  considerations. 

"  Love  is  determined  to  be  free  and  independent  of  all  the  ter 
restrial  affections,  lest  its  inward  light  should  be  obscured,  and 
it  should  either  be  embarrassed  with  the  goods  or  dejected  by 
the  ills  of  the  world. 

"  There  is  nothing  in  heaven  or  upon  earth  that  is  more  deli 
cious  or  more  powerful,  more  exalted  or  more  comprehensive, 
more  agreeable,  more  perfect,  or  more  excellent,  than  love,  because 
love  is  the  offspring  of  God,  and,  soaring  above  all  created  beings, 
cannot  find  repose  except  in  God. 

"  Those  alone  who  love  can  comprehend  the  language  of  love, 
and  those  words  of  fire  in  which  a  soul  deeply  imbued  with  the 
Deity  addresses  him  when  it  ejaculates,  'Thou  art  my  God; 
thou  art  my  love ;  thou  art  completely  mine,  and  I  am  entirely 
thine !  Extend  my  heart  that  I  may  love  thee  still  more ;  and 
teach  me  by  an  inward  and  spiritual  taste  how  delicious  it  is  to 
love  thee,  to  swim,  and  to  be,  as  it  were,  absorbed  in  the  ocean 
of  thy  love/  " 

"  He  who  loves  generously/'  adds  the  same  author,  "  stands 
firm  amid  temptations,  and  suffers  himself  not  to  be  surprised  by 
the  subtle  persuasions  of  his  enemy." 

It  is  this  Christian  passion,  this  immense  conflict  between  a 
terrestrial  and  a  celestial  love,  which  Corneille  has  depicted  in 
that  celebrated  scene  of  his  Polyeuctes, — for  this  great  man,  less 
delicate  than  the  philosophers  of  the  present  day,  had  no  notion 
that  Christianity  was  beneath  his  genius. 

Pol.     If  death  be  noble  in  a  sovereign's  cause, 

What  must  his  be  who  suffers  for  his  God  ? 
Paul.  What  God  is  that  thou  speakest  of? 
Pol.  Ah  !  Paulina, 

He  hears  thy  every  word. — "Tis  not  a  God, 

Deaf  and  insensible  and  impotent, 

Of  marble,  or  of  wood,  or  shining  gold. 

1  Book  iii.  ch,  5. 
25* 


294  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


I  mean  the  Christian's  God — my  God  and  thine, 
Than  whom  nor  earth  nor  heaven  confess  another. 
Paul.  Be  then  content  within  thy  heart's  recess 

To  adore  in  silence. 
p°l"  Why  not  tell  me  rather 

To  be  at  once  idolater  and  Christian? 
Paul.  Feign  but  a  moment,  till  Severus'  absence, 

And  give  my  father's  mercy  scope  to  act. 
Pol.     My  Heavenly  Father's  mercy — ah  !  how  far 
To  be  preferred  !     He  my  unconscious  steps 
From  lurking  danger  guides.     His  hand  sustains, 
And  when  but  entering  on  my  new  career, 
His  grace  decrees  the  crown  of  victory.  • 
My  bark  just  launched  he  safely  wafts  to  port, 
And  me  from  baptism's  rites  to  heaven  conveys. 
Oh  that  thou  knewest  the  vanity  of  life, 
And  all  the  bliss  that  after  death  awaits  us ! 
God  of  all  mercy,  thou  hast  given  to  her 
Too  many  virtues,  and  too  high  perfections, 
Which  claim  her  for  a  Christian,  that  'twere  grievou* 
To  think  her  destined  to  remain  estranged 
From  thee  and  from  thy  love,  to  live  the  slave, 
The  unhappy  slave,  of  thine  arch-enemy, 
And  die,  as  born,  beneath  his  odious  yoke! 
Paul.  What  wish  escaped  thy  too  presumptuous  tongue? 
Pol.     One  whose  fulfilment  gladly  would  I  purchase 
With  every  purple  drop  that  fills  these  veins. 

Paul.  Sooner  shall 

PoL  Hold,  Paulina :  'tis  in  vain 

To  struggle  'gainst  conviction.     Unawares 
The  God  of  Christians  melts  the  obdurate  heart; 
The  happy  moment,  though  not  yet  arrived, 
Will  come,  but  when,  is  not  to  me  revealed. 
Paul.  Give  up  such  idle  fancies,  and  assure 

Me  of  thy  love. 
p°l"  Ah!  doubt  me  not,  Paulina; 

I  love  thee  more  than  life,  nay,  more  than  aught 
In  heaven  or  earth,  save  God. 
Paul-  Then,  by  that  love 

Leave  me  not,  I  conjure  thee  ! 
Pol>  By  that  love 

Let  me  implore  thee,  do  as  I  have  done. 
Paul.  What,  not  content  to  abandon,  wouldst  thou  too 

Seduce  me  from  my  faith  ? 

P°l-  Is't  then  a  hardship 

To  go  to  heaven  ?  for  thither  I'd  conduct  thee  ! 
Paul.  No  more  of  these  chimerag  ! 
P°l-  Sacred  truths  ! 

PauL  Infatuation  J 


THE   CHRISTIAN   RELIGION   A   PASSION.  295 

Pol      No;  celestial  light. 

Paul.   Thou  choosest  death  before  Paulina's  love. 

Pol.     Attacned  to  earth,  thou  spurnest  grace  divine.' 

Such  are  those  admirable  dialogues  in  Corneille's  manneir,  in 
which  the  sincerity  of  the  speakers,  the  rapidity  of  the  transi 
tions,  the  warmth  and  elevation  of  the  sentiments,  never  fail  to 
delight  the  audience.  How  sublime  is  Polyeuctes  in  this  scene  ! 
what  greatness  of  soul,  what  dignity,  what  divine  enthusiasm  he 
displays  !  The  gravity  and  nobleness  of  the  Christian  character 
appear,  even  in  the  opposition  of  the  plural  and  singular  pro 
nouns  volts  and  tu,  the  mere  use  of  which  in  this  way  places  a 
whole  world  between  the  martyr  Polyeuctes  and  the  pagan 
Paulina. 

Finally,  Corneille  has  exhibited  all  the  energy  of  the  Christian 
passion  in  that  dialogue  which,  to  use  Voltaire's  expression,  is 
"admirable,  and  always  received  with  applause." 

Felix  proposes  to  Polyeuctes  to  sacrifice  to  his  false  gods ;  but 
Polyeuctes  refuses  to  comply; — 

FeL     At  length  to  my  just  wrath  my  clemency 

Gives  place.     Adore,  or  yield  thy  forfeit  life. 

Pol.     I  am  a  Christian. 

Pel.  Impious  wretch  !  adore, 

Or  death  shall  be  thy  doom. 

Pol.  I  am  a  Christian. 

FeL      Oh  bosom  most  obdurate !     Soldiers,  haste 
And  execute  the  orders  I  have  issued. 

Paul.  Ah  !  whither  lead  ye  him  ? 

Fel.  To  death. 

Pol.  To  glory.2 

Those  words — I  am  a  Christian — twice  repeated  are  equal  to 
the  most  exalted  expression  of  the  Horaces.  Corneille,  who  was 
so  excellent  a  judge  of  the  sublime,  well  knew  to  what  a  height 
the  love  of  religion  is  capable  of  rising ;  for  the  Christian  loves 
God  as  the  supreme  beauty,  and  heaven  as  his  native  land. 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  could  polytheism  ever  inspire  an 
idolater  with  anything  of  the  enthusiasm  of  Polyeuctes  ?  What 
could  be  the  object  of  his  passionate  love  ?  Would  he  submit  to 
death  for  some  lewd  goddess  or  for  a  cruel  and  unfeeling  god  ? 
The  religions  which  are  capable  of  exciting  any  ardor  are  those 

1  Act  iv.  scene  iii.  2  Act  v.  scene  iii. 


}J96  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


which  approach  more  or  less  to  the  doctrine  of  the  unity  of  n 
Grod ;  otherwise,  the  heart  and  mind,  being  divided  among  a  mul 
titude  of  divinities,  cannot  be  strongly  attached  to  any.  No  love, 
moreover,  can  le  durable  that  has  not  virtue  for  its  object.  Truth 
will  ever  be  the  predominant  passion  of  man  j  if  he  loves  error, 
it  is  because  at  the  time  he  considers  error  as  truth.  We  have 
no  affection  for  falsehood,  though  we  are  continually  falling  into 
it;  but  this  weakness  proceeds  from  our  original  depravity;  we 
have  lost  strength  while  retaining  desire,  and  our  hearts  still  seek 
the  light  which  our  eyes  are  now  too  feeble  to  endure. 

The  Christian  religion,  in  again  opening  to  us,  by  the  merits 
of  the  Son  of  Man,  those  luminous  paths  which  death  had 
covered  with  its  shades,  has  recalled  to  us  our  primitive  loves. 
Heir  of  the  benedictions  of  Jacob,  the  Christian  burns  to  enter 
that  celestial  Sion  to  which  are  directed  all  his  sighs.  This  is  the 
passion  which  our  poets  may  celebrate,  after  the  example  of  Cor- 
neille.  It  is  a  source  of  beauty  which  was  wholly  unknown  to 
antiquity,  and  which  Sophocles  and  Euripides  would  not  have 
overlooked. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

OP   THE    UNSETTLED    STATE    OF   THE   PASSIONS. 

WE  have  yet  to  treat  of  a  state  of  the  soul  which,  as  we  think, 
has  not  been  accurately  described ;  we  mean  that  which  precedes 
the  development  of  the  strong  passions,  when  all  the  faculties, 
fresh,  active,  and  entire,  but  confined  in  the  breast,  act  only  upon 
themselves,  without  object  and  without  end.  The  more  nations 
advance  in  civilization,  the  more  this  unsettled  state  of  the  pas 
sions  predominates ;  for  then  the  many  examples  we  have  before 
us,  and  the  multitude  of  books  we  possess,  give  us  knowledge 
without  experience ;  we  are  undeceived  before  we  have  enjoyed ; 
there  still  remain  desires,  but  no  illusions.  Our  imagination  is 
rich,  abundant,  and  full  of  wonders;  but  our  existence  is  poor, 
insipid,  and  destitute  of  charms.  With  a  full  heart,  we  dwell  in 
an  empty  world,  and  scarcely  have  we  advanced  a  few  steps  when 
we  have  nothing  more  to  learn. 


UNSETTLED   STATE   OF   THE   PASSIONS.  297 

It  is  inconceivable  what  a  shade  this  state  of  the  soul  throws 
over  life ;  the  heart  turns  a  hundred  different  ways  to  employ  the 
energies  which  it  feels  to  be  useless  to  it.  The  ancients  knew 
(jut  little  of  this  secret  inquietude,  this  irritation  of  the  stifled 
passions  fermenting  all  together;  political  affairs,  the  sports  of 
the  Gymnasium  and  of  the  Campus  Martius,  the  business  of  the 
forum  and  of  the  popular  assemblies,  engaged  all  their  time,  and 
left  no  room  for  this  tedium  of  the  heart. 

On  the  other  hand,  they  were  not  disposed  to  exaggerations,  to 
hopes  and  fears  without  object,  to  versatility  in  ideas  and  senti 
ments,  and  to  perpetual  inconstancy,  which  is  but  a  continual 
disgust, — dispositions  which  we  acquire  in  the  familiar  society  of 
the  fair  sex.  Women,  independently  of  the  direct  passion  which 
they  excite  among  all  modern  nations,  also  possess  an  influence 
over  the  other  sentiments.  They  have  in  their  nature  a  certain 
ease  which  they  communicate  to  ours ;  they  render  the  marks  of 
the  masculine  character  less  distinct;  and  our  passions,  softened 
by  the  mixture  of  theirs,  assume,  at  one  and  the  same  time,  some 
thing  uncertain  and  delicate. 

Finally,  the  Greeks  and  Romans,  looking  scarcely  any  farther 
than  the  present  life,  and  having  no  conception  of  pleasures  more 
perfect  than  those  which  this  world  aifords,  were  not  disposed, 
like  us,  by  the  character  of  their  religion,  to  meditation  and 
desire.  Formed  for  the  relief  of  our  afflictions  and  our  wants, 
the  Christian  religion  incessantly  exhibits  to  our  view  the  twofold 
picture  of  terrestrial  griefs  and  heavenly  joys,  and  thus  creates  in 
the  heart  a  source  of  present  evils  and  distant  hopes,  whence 
spring  inexhaustible  abstractions  and  meditations.  The  Christian 
always  looks  upon  himself  as  no  more  than  a  pilgrim  travelling 
here  below  through  a  vale  of  tears  and  finding  no  repose  till  he 
reaches  the  tomb.  The  world  is  not  the  object  of  his  affections, 
for  he  knows  that  the  days  of  man  are  few,  and  that  this  object 
would  speedily  escape  from  his  grasp. 

The  persecutions  which  the  first  believers  underwent  had  the 
effect  of  strengthening  in  them  this  disgust  of  the  things  of  this 
life.  The  invasion  of  the  barbarians  raised  this  feeling  to  the 
highest  pitch,  and  the  human  mind  received  from  it  an  impres 
sion  of  melancholy,  and,  perhaps,  even  a  slight  tincture  of  mis 
anthropy,  which  has  never  been  thoroughly  removed.  On  all 


298  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


sides  arose  convents;  hither  retired  the  unfortunate,  smarting 
under  the  disappointments  of  the  world,  or  souls  who  chose  rather 
to  remain  strangers  to  certain  sentiments  of  life  than  to  run  the 
risk  of  finding  themselves  cruelly  deceived.1  But,  nowaday, 
when  these  ardent  souls  have  no  monastery  to  enter,  or  have  not 
the  virtue  that  would  lead  them  to  one,  they  feel  like  strangers 
among  men.  Disgusted  with  the  age,  alarmed  by  religion,  they 
remain  in  the  world  without  mingling  in  its  pursuits ;  and  then 
we  behold  that  culpable  sadness  which  springs  up  in  the  midst 
of  the  passions,  when  these  passions,  without  object,  burn  them 
selves  out  in  a  solitary  heart. 

1  Though  the  author  does  not  assert  in  this  passage  that  misanthropy  had 
any  part  in  the  introduction  of  the  monastic  institute,  or  is  compatible  with  its 
essential  spirit,  this  meaning  might  be  inferred  by  the  reader  who  would  not 
attend  particularly  to  the  language  which  he  employs.  He  wishes  to  convey 
the  idea  that  the  conventual  life,  by  removing  the  occasions  of  sin  and  fixing 
the  mind  and  heart  upon  God  alone,  afforded  the  remedy  of  that  morbid  condi 
tion  of  the  soul  which  follows  from  misanthropy  and  a  natural  aversion  for  the 
world.  These  sentiments  are  transformed  by  the  religious  or  monastic  spirit 
into  sentiments  of  charity  and  self-denial.  It  is  well  known  that  the  introduc 
tion  of  the  religious  orders  was  the  inauguration  of  a  new  era  in  the  history 
of  Christian  charity,  as  it  opened  immense  additional  resources  for  the  allevia 
tion  of  almost  every  species  of  human  misery.  The  monastic  spirit,  moreover* 
was  founded  essentially  on  the  love  of  God,  as  the  only  end  of  man.  But  the 
love  of  God  and  the  love  of  the  neighbor  go  hand-in-hand.  Misanthropy, 
therefore,  is  a  sentiment,  both  historically  and  intrinsically,  opposed  to  the 
spirit  of  the  monastic  state.  That  a  tinge  of  melancholy  in  regard  to  earthly 
things  should  pervade  the  religious  and  even  the  ordinary  Christian  life,  is  in 
accordance  with  the  gospel  itself,  since  it  teaches  us  to  look  upon  ourselves  as 
exiles  in  this  world,  and  beatifies  those  who  yield  to  the  spiritual  sainesa 
which  this  consideration  inspires.  "Blessed  are  they  that  mourn,  lyr  they 
shall  be  comforted."  T. 


BOOK    IV. 

OF  THE   MARVELLOUS;   OR,  OF   POETRY  IN  ITS  RELA 
TIONS   TO   SUPERNATURAL  BEINGS. 


CHAPTER   I. 

MYTHOLOGY  DIMINISHED  THE  GRANDEUR  OF  NATURE — THE 
ANCIENTS  HAD  NO  DESCRIPTIVE  POETRY,  PROPERLY  SO 
CALLED. 

WE  have  already  shown  in  the  preceding  books  that  Chris 
tianity,  by  mingling  with  the  affections  of  the  soul,  has  increased 
the  resources  of  the  drama.  Polytheism  did  not  concern  itself 
about  the  vices  and  virtues;  it  was  completely  divorced  from 
morality.  In  this  respect,  Christianity  has  an  immense  advantage 
over  heathenism.  But  let  us  see  whether,  in  regard  to  what  is 
termed  the  marvellous,  it  be  not  superior  in  beauty  to  mythology 
itself. 

We  are  well  aware  that  we  have  here  undertaken  to  attack  one 
of  the  most  inveterate  scholastic  prejudices.  The  weight  of 
authority  is  against  us,  and  many  lines  might  be  quoted  from 
Racine's  poem  on  the  Poetic  Art  in  our  condemnation. 

However  this  may  be,  it  is  not  impossible  to  maintain  that 
mythology,  though  so  highly  extolled,  instead  of  embellishing 
nature  destroys  her  real  charms  ;  and  we  believe  that  several  emi 
nent  characters  in  the  literary  world  are  at  present  of  this  opinion. 

The  first  and  greatest  imperfection  of  mythology  was  that  it 
circumscribed  the  limits  of  nature  and  banished  truth  from  her 
domain.  An  incontestable  proof  of  this  fact  is  that  the  poetry 
which  we  term  descriptive  was  unknown  throughout  all  antiquity;1 
so  that  the  very  poets  who  celebrated  the  works  of  nature  did  not 
enter  into  the  descriptive  in  the  sense  which  we  attach  to  the 
word.  They  have  certainly  left  us  admirable  delineations  of  the 

1  See  note  Q. 

299 


300  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

employments,  the  manners,  and  the  pleasures,  of  rural  life;  but 
as  to  those  pictures  of  scenery,  of  the  seasons,  and  of  the  varia 
tions  of  the  sky  and  weather,  which  have  enriched  the  modern 
Muse,  scarcely  any  traits  of  this  kind  are  to  be  found  in  their 
compositions. 

The  few  that  they  contain  are  indeed  excellent,  like  the  rest 
of  their  works.  Homer,  when  describing  the  cavern  of  the 
Cyclop,  docs  not  line  it  with  lilacs  and  roses;  like  Theocritus, 
he  has  planted  laurels  and  tall  pines  before  it.  He  embellishes 
the  gardens  of  Alcinous  with  flowing  fountains  and  useful  trees; 
in  another  place  he  mentions  the  hill  assaulted  by  the  winds  and 
covered  with  fiy-trees,  and  he  represents  the  smoke  of  Circe's 
palace  ascending  above  a  forest  of  oaks. 

Virgil  has  introduced  the  same  truth  into  his  delineations. 
He  gives  to  the  pine  the  epithet  of  harmonious,  because  the  pine 
actually  sends  forth  a  kind  of  soft  murmur  when  gently  agitated; 
the  clouds  in  the  Greorgics  are  compared  to  fleeces  of  wool  rolled 
together  by  the  winds;  and  the  swallows  in  the  ^Eneid  twitter 
on  the  thatched  roof  of  king  Evander  or  skim  the  porticoes  of 
palaces.  Horace,  Tibullus,  Propertius,  and  Ovid,  have  also  left 
some  sketches  of  this  nature;  but  they  consist  of  nothing  more 
than  a  favorite  grove  of  Morpheus,  a  valley  into  which  the 
Cytherean  goddess  is  about  to  descend,  or  a  fountain  where 
Bacchus  reposes  in  the  lap  of  the  Naiads. 

The  philosophic  age  of  antiquity  produced  no  alteration  in  this 
manner.  Olympus,  whose  existence  was  no  longer  believed,  now 
sought  refuge  among  the  poets,  who  in  their  turn  protected  the 
gods  that  had  once  protected  them.  Statius  and  Silius  Italicus 
advanced  no  further  than  Homer  and  Virgil;  Lucan  alone  made 
some  progress  in  this  species  of  composition,  and  in  his  Pharsalia 
we  find  the  description  of  a  forest  and  a  desert,  which  remind  ua 
of  the  colors  of  modern  artists.1 

Lastly,  the  naturalists  were  as  sober  as  the  poets,  and  followed 
nearly  the  same  road.  Thus  Pliny  and  Columella,  who  came 
the  last,  take  more  pains  to  describe  nature  than  Aristotle. 
Among  the  historians  and  the  philosophers,  Xenophon,  Plato, 

1  This  description  is  full  of  bombast  and  bad  taste;  though  we  have  nothing 
to  do  here  with  the  execution  of  the  piece,  but  with  the  class  to  which  it  belongs. 


ANCIENT   DESCRIPTIVE   POETRY  3Q1 


Tacitus,  Plutarch,  and  Pliny  the  younger,  are  remarkable  foi 
gome  beautiful  pictures  * 

It  can  scarcely  be  supposed  that  men  endued  with  such  sensi 
bility  as  the  ancients,  could  have  wanted  eyes  to  perceive  the 
charms  of  nature  and  talents  for  depicting  them,  had  they  not 
been  blinded  by  some  powerful  cause.  Now,  this  cause  was  their 
established  mythology,  which,  peopling  the  universe  with  elegant 
phantoms,  banished  from  the  creation  its  solemnity,  its  grandeur, 
and  its  solitude.  It  was  necessary  that  Christianity  should  expel 
the  whole  hosts  of  fauns,  of  satyrs,  and  of  nymphs,  to  restore  to 
the  grottos  their  silence  and  to  the  woods  their  scope  for  unin 
terrupted  contemplation.  Under  our  religion  the  deserts  have 
assumed  a  character  more  pensive,  more  vague,  and  more  sub 
lime;  the  forests  have  attained  a  loftier  pitch;  the  rivers  have 
broken  their  petty  urns,  that  in  future  they  may  only  pour  the 
waters  of  the  abyss  from  the  summit  of  the  mountains;  and  the 
true  God,  in  returning  to  his  works,  has  imparted  his  immensity 
to  nature. 

The  prospect  of  the  universe  could  not  excite  in  the  bosoms 
of  the  Greeks  and  Romans  those  emotions  which  it  produces  in 
our  souls.  Instead  of  that  setting  sun,  whose  lengthened  rays 
sometimes  light  up  the  forest,  at  others  form  a  golden  tangent 
on  the  rolling  arch  of  the  seas, — instead  of  those  beautiful  acci 
dents  of  light  which  every  morning  remind  us  of  the  miracle 
of  the  creation, — the  ancients  beheld  around  them  naught  but 
a  uniform  system,  which  reminds  us  of  the  machinery  of  an 
opera. 

If  the  poet  wandered  in  the  vales  of  the  Taygetus,  on  the  banks 
of  the  Sperchius,  on  the  Msenalus,  beloved  of  Orpheus,  or  in  the 
plains  of  the  Elorus,  whatever  may  have  been  the  charm  of  this 
Grecian  geography,  he  met  with  nothing  but  fauns,  he  heard  no 
sounds  but  those  of  the  dryads.  Apollo  and  the  Muses  were 
there,  and  Vertumnus  with  the  Zephyrs  led  eternal  dances.  Syl- 
vans  and  Naiads  may  strike  the  imagination  in  an  agreeable 

1  See  in  Xenopbon  the  Retreat  of  the  Ten  Thousand,  and  the  Treatise  on 
Hunting;  in  Plato,  the  exordium  of  the  Dialogue  on  the  Laws;  in  Tacitus,  the 
description  of  the  forsaken  camp,  where  Varus  was  massacred  with  his  legions, 
(Annul.,  lib.  i. ;)  in  Plutarch,  the-lives  of  Brutus  and  of  Pompey ;  in  Pliny,  the 
descriptio  of  his  gar  Ion. 
26 


302  G::NIUS  CF  CHRISTIANITY. 

manner,  provided  they  be  not  incessantly  brought  forward.     We 
would  not 

Expel  the  Tritons  from  the  watery  waste, 

Destroy  Pan's  pipe,  snatch  from  the  Fates  their  shears. 

But  then  what  impression  does  all  this  leave  on  the  soul  ? 
What  results  from  it  for  the  heart  ?  What  moral  benefit  can  the 
mind  thence  derive  ?  Oh,  how  far  more  highly  is  the  Christian 
poet  favored  !  Free  from  that  multitude  of  absurd  deities  which 
circumscribed  them  on  all  sides,  the  woods  are  filled  with  the 
immensity  of  the  Divinity;  and  the  gift  of  prophecy  and  wisdom, 
mystery  mid  religion,  seem  to  have  fixed  their  eternal  abode 
in  their  awful  recesses. 

Penetrate  into  those  forests  of  America  coeval  with  the  world. 
What  profound  silence  pervades  these  retreats  when  the  winds 
are  hushed !  What  unknown  voices  when  they  begin  to  rise ! 
Stand  still,  and  every  thing  is  mute ;  take  but  a  step,  and  all 
nature  sighs.  Night  approaches :  the  shades  thicken  ;  you  heai 
herds  of  wild  beasts  passing  in  the  dark ;  the  ground  murmurs 
under  your  feet;  the  pealing  thunder  roars  in  the  deserts;  the 
forest  bows ;  the  trees  fall ;  an  unknown  river  rolls  before  you. 
The  moon  at  length  bursts  forth  in  the  east;  as  you  proceed  at 
the  foot  of  the  trees,  she  seems  to  move  before  you  at  their  tops, 
and  solemnly  to  accompany  your  steps.  The  wanderer  seats  him 
self  on  the  trunk  of  an  oak  to  await  the  return  of  day ;  he  looks 
alternately  at  the  nocturnal  luminary,  the  darkness,  and  the 
river :  he  feels  restless,  agitated,  and  in  expectation  of  some 
thing  extraordinary.  A  pleasure  never  felt  before,  an  unusual 
fear,  cause  his  heart  to  throb,  as  if  he  were  about  to  be  admitted 
to  some  secret  of  the  Divinity ;  he  is  alone  in  the  depth  of  the  for 
ests,  but  the  mind  of  man  is  equal  to  the  expanse  of  nature,  and  all 
the  solitudes  of  the  earth  are  less  vast  than  one  single  thought  of 
his  heart.  Even  did  he  reject  the  idea  of  a  Deity,  the  intellectual 
being,  alone  and  unbeheld,  would  be  more  august  in  the  midst 
of  a  solitary  world  than  if  surrounded  by  the  ridiculous  divinities 
of  fabulous  times.  The  barren  desert  itself  would  have  some  con 
geniality  with  his  discursive  thoughts,  his  melancholy  feelings,  and 
even  his  disgust  for  a  life  equally  devoid  of  illusion  and  of  hope. 

There  is  in  man  an  instinctive  melancholy,  which  makes  him 
harmonize  with  the  scenery  of  nature.  Who  has  not  spent  whole 


ALLEGORY.  303 

hours  seated  on  the  bank  of  a  river  contemplating  its  passing 
waves?  Who  has  not  found  pleasure  on  the  sea-shore  in  viewing 
the  distant  rock  whitened  by  the  billows  ?  How  much  are  the 
ancients  to  be  pitied,  who  discovered  in  the  ocean  naught  but  the 
palace  of  Neptune  and  the  cavern  of  Proteus  !  It  was  hard  that 
they  should  perceive  only  the  adventures  of  the  Tritons  and  the 
Nereids  in  the  immensity  of  the  seas,  which  seems  to  give  an  in 
distinct  measure  of  the  greatness  of  our  souls,  and  which  excites 
a  vague  desire  to  quit  this  life,  that  we  may  embrace  all  nature 
and  taste  the  fulness  of  joy  in  the  presence  of  its  Author. 


CHAPTER  II. 

OF   ALLEGORY. 

METHINKS  I  hear  some  one  ask,  do  you  find  nothing  beautiful 
in  the  allegories  of  the  ancients  ?  We  must  make  a  distinction. 

The  moral  allegory,  like  that  of  the  prayers  in  Homer,  is 
beautiful  in  all  ages,  in  all  countries,  in  all  religions ;  nor  has  it 
been  banished  by  Christianity.  We  may,  as  much  as  we  will, 
place  at  the  foot  of  the  throne  of  the  Supreme  Judge  the  two 
vessels  filled  with  good  and  evil;  we  shall  possess  this  advantage, 
that  our  God  will  never  act  unjustly  or  at  random,  like  Jupiter; 
he  will  pour  the  floods  of  adversity  upon  the  heads  of  mortals,  not 
out  of  caprice,  but  for  a  purpose  known  to  himself  alone.  We 
are  aware  that  our  happiness  here  below  is  co-ordinate  with  a 
general  happiness  in  a  chain  of  beings  and  of  worlds  that  are  con 
cealed  from  our  sight;  that  man,  in  harmony  with  the  spheres, 
keeps  pace  with  them  in  their  progress  to  accomplish  a  revolu 
tion  which  God  envelops  in  his  eternity. 

But  if  the  moral  allegory  still  continues  to  exist  for  us,  this 
is  not  the  case  with  the  physical  allegory.  Let  Juno  be  the  air, 
and  Jupiter  the  ether,  and  thus,  while  brother  and  sister,  still 
remain  husband  and  wife, — where  is  the  charm,  where  is  the 
grandeur,  of  this  personification  ?  Nay,  more,  this  species  of  alle 
gory  is  contrary  to  the  principles  of  taste  and  even  of  soun  1  logic. 


304  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


We  ought  never  to  personify  a  being  itself,  but  only  a  quality 
or  affection  of  that  being;  otherwise  there  is  not  a  real  personifi 
cation,  but  merely  a  change  in  the  name  of  the  object.  I  may 
give  speech  to  a  stone;  but  what  shall  I  gain  by  assigning  to  this 
stone  an  allegorical  name?  Now  the  soul,  whose  nature  is  life, 
essentially  possesses  the  faculty  of  producing;  so  that  one  of  her 
vices,  one  of  her  virtues,  may  be  considered  as  her  son,  or  as  her 
daughter,  since  she  has  actually  given  birth  to  it.  This  passion, 
active  as  its  parent,  may,  in  its  turn  grown  up,  develop  itself, 
acquire  features,  and  become  a  distinct  being.  But  the  physical 
object — a  being  purely  passive  by  its  very  nature,  which  is  not 
susceptible  either  of  pleasure  or  of  pain,  which  has  no  passions, 
but  merely  accidents,  and  accidents  as  inanimate  as  itself — affords 
nothing  to  which  you  can  impart  life.  Would  you  transform  the 
obduracy  of  the  flint  or  the  sap  of  the  oak  into  an  allegorical 
being?  It  should  be  observed  that  the  understanding  is  less 
shocked  by  the  creation  of  dryads,  naiads,  zephyrs,  and  echoes, 
than  by  that  of  nymphs  attached  to  mute  and  motionless  objects; 
for  in  trees,  water,  and  the  air,  there  are  motions  and  sounds 
which  convey  the  idea  of  life,  and  which  may  consequently  fur 
nish  an  allegory,  like  the  movement  of  the  soul.  But  this  minor 
species  of  physical  allegory,  though  not  quite  so  bad  as  the 
greater,  is  always  of  inferior  merit,  cold  and  incomplete;  it 
resembles  at  best  the  fairies  of  the  Arabs  and  the  genii  of  the 
Orientals. 

As  to  the  vague  sort  of  deities  placed  by  the  ancients  in  solitary 
woods  and  wild  situations,  they  doubtless  produced  a  pleasing 
effect,  but  they  had  no  kind  of  connection  with  the  mythological 
system  :  the  human  mind  here  fell  back  into  natural  religion. 
What  the  trembling  traveller  adored  as  he  passed  through  these 
solitudes  was  something  unknown,  something  with  whose  narae 
he  was  not  acquainted,  and  which  he  called  the  divinity  of  the 
place;  sometimes  he  gave  it  the  name  of  Pan,  and  Pan  was  the 
universal  God.  These  powerful  emotions,  excited  by  wild  na 
ture,  have  not  ceased  to  exist,  and  the  forests  still  retain  for  us 
their  awful  divinity. 

In  short,  it  is  so  true  that  the  physical  allegory,  or  the  deities 
of  fable,  destroyed  the  charms  of  nature,  that  the  ancients  had  no 
genuine  landscape  painters  for  the  same  reason  that  they  had  no 


MODERN  DESCRIPTIVE  POETRY.         305 


descriptive  poetry.1  This  species  of  poetry,  however,  was  more 
or  less  known  among  other  idolatrous  nations,  who  were  strangers 
to  the  mythologic  system ;  witness  the  Sanscrit  poems,  the  tales 
of  the  Arabs,  the  Edda  of  the  Scandinavians,  the  songs  of  the 
negroes  and  the  savages.3  But,  as  the  infidel  nations  have  always 
mingled  their  false  religion,  and  consequently  their  bad  taste, 
with  their  compositions,  it  is  under  the  Christian  dispensation 
alone  that  nature  has  been  delineated  with  truth. 


CHAPTER  III. 

HISTORICAL    PART    OP    DESCRIPTIVE   POETRY   AMONG   THE 
MODERNS. 

No  sooner  had  the  apostles  begun  to  preach  the  gospel  to  the 
world  than  descriptive  poetry  made  its  appearance.  All  things 
returned  to  the  way  of  truth,  before  Him  who,  in  the  words  of 
St.  Augustin,  holds  the  place  of  truth  on  earth.  Nature  ceased 
to  speak  through  the  fallacious  organ  of  idols;  her  ends  were 
discovered,  and  it  became  known  that  she  was  made  in  the  first 
place  for  God,  and  in  the  second  for  man.  She  proclaims,  in 
fact,  only  two  things:  God  glorified  by  his  works,  and  human 
wants  supplied. 

This  great  discovery  changed  the  whole  face  of  the  creation. 
From  its  intellectual  part,  that  is  to  say,  from  the  divine  intelli 
gence  which  it  everywhere  displays,  the  soul  received  abundance 
of  food ;  and  from  its  material  part  the  body  perceived  that  every 
thing  had  been  formed  for"  itself.  The  vain  images  attached  to 
inanimate  beings  vanished,  and  the  rocks  became  much  more 
really  animated,  the  oaks  pronounced  m^re  certain  oracles,  the 
winds  and  the  waves  emitted  sounds  far  more  impressive,  when 
man  had  discovered  in  his  own  heart  the  life,  the  oracles,  and  the 
voice  of  nature. 

Hitherto  solitude  had  been  looked  upon  as  frightful,  tut  Chris- 

i  The  facts  on  which  this  assertion  is  grounded  are  developed  in  note  W,  at 
the  end  of  the  volume.  2  See  note  R. 

28*  U 


306  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


tians  found  in  it  a  thousand  charms.  The  anchorets  extolled  the 
beauties  of  rocks  and  the  delights  of  contemplation;  and  this 
was  the  first  stage  of  descriptive  poetry.  The  religious  who 
published  the  lives  of  the  first  fathers  of  the  desert  were  also 
obliged  to  describe  the  retreats  in  which  these  illustrious  recluses 
had  buried  their  glory.  In  the  works  of  a  Jerome  and  of  an 
Athanasius1  may  still  be  seen  descriptions  of  nature  which  prove 
that  they  were  not  only  capable  of  observing,  but  also  of  exciting 
a  love  for  what  they  delineated. 

This  new  species  of  composition  introduced  into  literature  by 
Christianity  rapidly  gained  ground.  It  insinuated  itself  even 
into  the  historic  style,  as  may  be  remarked  in  the  collection 
known  by  the  name  of  the  Byzantine,  and  particularly  in  the 
histories  of  Procopius.  It  was  in  like  manner  propagated,  but  in 
a  degenerate  form,  by  the  Greek  novelists  of  the  Lower  Empire 
and  by  some  of  the  Latin  poets  in  the  West. 

When  Constantinople  had  passed  under  the  yoke  of  the  Turks, 
a  new  species  of  descriptive  poetry,  composed  of  the  relics  of 
Moorish,  Greek,  and  Italian  genius,  sprang  up  in  Italy.  Pe 
trarch,  Ariosto,  and  Tasso,  raised  it  to  a  high  degree  of  perfec 
tion.  But  this  kind  of  description  is  deficient  in  truth.  It 
consists  of  certain  epithets  incessantly  repeated  and  always  ap 
plied  in  the  same  manner.  It  was  impossible  to  quit  the  shady 
forest,  the  cool  cavern,  or  the  banks  of  the  limpid  stream.  No 
thing  was  to  be  seen  but  groves  of  orange-trees  and  bowers  of 
jessamine  and  roses. 

Flora  returned  with  her  basket,  and  the  eternal  Zephyrs  failed 
not  to  attend  her;  but  they  found  in  the  woods  neither  the 
Fauns  nor  the  Naiads,  and,  had  they  not  met  with  the  Fairies 
and  the  Giants  of  the  Moors,  they  would  have  run  the  risk  of 
losing  themselves  in  this  immense  solitude  of  Christian  nature. 
When  the  human  mind  advances  a  step,  every  thing  must  ad 
vance  with  it ;  all  nature  changes  with  its  lights  or  its  shadows. 
Hence,  it  would  be  painful  to  us  now  to  admit  petty  divinities 
where  we  see  naught  but  wide-extended  space.  Place,  if  you 
will,  the  mistress  of  Tithonus  upon  a  car,  and  cover  her  with 
flowers  and  with  dew;  nothing  will  prevent  her  appearing  dis- 

1  Hieron.,  in  Vit.  Paul. ;  Athan.,  in  Vit.  Anton. 


MODERN   DESCRIPTIVE   POETRY.  307 


proportionate,  while  shedding  her  feeble  light  through  the  bound 
less  firmament  which  Christianity  has  expanded;  let  her  then 
leave  the  office  of  enlightening  the  world  to  Him  by  whom  it  wae 
created. 

From  Italy  this  species  of  descriptive  poetry  passed  into 
France,  where  it  was  favorably  received  by  a  Ronsard,  a  Le- 
moine,  a  Coras,  a  St.  Amand,  and  the  early  novelists.  But  the 
great  writers  of  the  age  of  Louis  XI V.,  disgusted  with  this 
style  of  delineation,  in  which  they  discovered  no  marks  of  truth, 
banished  it  both  from  their  prose  and  their  poetry ;  and  it  is  one 
of  the  distinguishing  characteristics  of  their  works  that  they  ex 
hibit  no  traces  of  what  we  denominate  descriptive  poetry.1 

Thus  repulsed  from  France,  the  rural  muse  sought  refuge  in 
England,  where  Spenser,  Milton,  and  Waller  had  paved  the  way 
for  her  reception.  Here  she  gradually  lost  her  affected  manner, 
but  she  fell  into  another  excess.  In  describing  real  nature  alone, 
she  attempted  to  delineate  every  thing,  and  overloaded  her  pic 
tures  either  with  objects  too  trivial  or  with  ridiculous  circum 
stances.  Thomson  himself,  in  his  Winter,  so  superior  to  the 
other  parts  of  his  poem,  has  some  passages  that  are  very  tedious. 
Such  was  the  second  epoch  of  descriptive  poetry. 

From  England  she  returned  to  France,  with  the  works  of  Pope 
and  the  bard  of  the  Seasons.  Here  she  had  some  difficulty  in 
gaining  admission,  being  opposed  by  the  ancient  Italian  style, 
which  Dorat  and  some  others  had  revived;  she  nevertheless 
triumphed,  and  for  the  victory  was  indebted  to  Delille  and  St. 
Lambert.  She  improved  herself  under  the  French  muse,  sub 
mitted  to  the  rules  of  taste,  and  reached  the  third  epoch. 

It  must,  however,  be  observed  that  she  had  preserved  her 
purity,  though  unknown,  in  the  works  of  some  naturalists  of  the 
time  of  Louis  XIV.,  as  Tournefort  and  Dutertre.  The  latter  dis 
plays  a  lively  imagination,  added  to  a  tender  and  pensive  genius: 
he  even  uses  the  word  melancholy,  like  Lafontaine,  in  the  sense 
in  which  we  at  present  employ  it.  Thus  the  age  of  Louis  XIV. 
was  not  wholly  destitute  of  genuine  descriptive  poetry,  as  we 
might  at  first  be  led  to  imagine;  it  was  only  confined  to  the 

1  Feuelon,  Lafontaine,  and  Chaulieu,  must  be  excepted.  Racine  the  younger, 
the  father  of  this  new  poetic  school,  in  which  Delille  has  excelled,  may  also  be 
considered  as  the  founder  of  descriptive  poetry  in  France. 


GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


letters  of  our  missionaries  j1  and  here  it  is  that  we  have  studied 
this  kind  of  style,  which  we  consider  so  new  at  the  present  day. 

The  admirable  passages  interspersed  in  the  Bible  afford  a  two 
fold  proof  that  descriptive  poetry  is  among  us  the  offspring  of 
Christianity.  Job,  the  Prophets,  Ecclesiasticus,  and  the  Psalmsy 
in  particular,  are  full  of  magnificent  descriptions.  What  a  mas 
ter-piece  of  this  kind  is  the  one  hundred  and  third  psalm  ! — 

"  Bless  the  Lord,  0  my  soul !  0  Lord,  my  God,  thou  art  ex 
ceedingly  great ! Thou  hast  appointed  darkness,  and  it  is 

night :  in  it  shall  all  the  beasts  of  the  woods  go  about.  The 
young  lions  roaring  after  their  prey,  and  seeking  their  meat  from 
God  The  sun  ariseth,  and  they  are  gathered  together :  and  they 
shall  lie  down  in  their  dens.  Man  shall  go  forth  to  his  work,  and 
to  his  labor  until  the  evening.  How  great  are  thy  works,  0  Lord ! 
thou  hast  made  all  things  in  wisdom  :  the  earth  is  filled  with  thy 
riches.  So  is  this  great  sea,  which  stretcheth  wide  its  arms; 
there  are  creeping  things  without  number :  creatures  little  and 
great.  There  the  ships  shall  go.  This  sea-dragon  which  thou 
hast  formed  to  play  therein." 

Pindar  and  Horace  have  fallen  far  short  of  this  poetry. 

We  were,  therefore,  correct  in  the  observation  that  to  Chris 
tianity  St.  Pierre  owes  his  talent  for  delineating  the  scenery  of 
nature ;  to  Christianity  he  owes  it,  because  the  doctrines  of  our 
religion,  by  destroying  the  divinities  of  mythology,  have  re 
stored  truth  and  majesty  to  the  deserts  j  to  Christianity  he  owes 
it,  because  he  has  found  in  the  system  of  Moses  the  genuine  sys 
tem  of  nature. 

But  here  another  advantage  presents  itself  to  the  Christian 
poet.  If  his  religion  gives  him  a  solitary  nature,  he  likewise 
may  have  an  inhabited  nature.  He  may,  if  he  choose,  place 
angels  to  take  care  of  the  forests  and  the  abysses  of  the  deep,  or 
commit  to  their  charge  the  luminaries  and  spheres  of  heaven. 
This  leads  us  to  the  consideration  of  the  supernatural  beings,  or 
the  marvellous,  of  Christianity. 

1  The  reader  will  «ee  some  fine  examples  of  this  when  we  come  to  treat  of 
the  Missions. 


CHRISTIAN   AND   PAGAN   DIVINITIES  309 


CHAPTER   IV. 

HAVE  THE  DIVINITIES  OF  PAGANISM,  IN  A  POETICAL  POINT   OP 
VIEW,  THE  SUPERIORITY  OVER  THE  CHRISTIAN  DIVINITIES?1 

"WE  admit/'  impartial  persons  may  say,  " that,  in  regard  to 
men,  Christianity  has  furnished  a  department  of  the  drama  which 
was  unknown  to  mythology,  and  that  it  has  likewise  created  the 
genuine  descriptive  poetry.  Here  are  two  advantages  which  we 
acknowledge,  and  which  may,  in  some  measure,  justify  your  prin 
ciples,  and  counterbalance  the  beauties  of  fable.  But  now,  if  you 
are  candid,  you  must  allow  that  the  divinities  of  paganism,  when 
they  act  directly  and  for  themselves,  are  more  poetic  and  more 
dramatic  than  the  Christian  divinities." 

At  first  sight,  we  might  be  inclined  to  this  opinion.  The  gods 
of  the  ancients,  sharing  our  virtues  and  our  vices, — having,  like 
us,  bodies  liable  to  pain  and  irritable  passions, — mingling  with  the 
human  race,  and  leaving  here  below  a  mortal  posterity, — these 
gods  are  but  a  species  of  superior  men.  Hence  we  may  be  led 
to  imagine  that  they  furnish  poetry  with  greater  resources  than 
the  incorporeal  and  impassible  divinities  of  Christianity ;  but  on 
a  closer  examination  we  find  this  dramatic  superiority  reduced  to 
a  mere  trifle. 

In  the  first  place,  there  have  always  been,  in  every  religion, 
two  species  of  deity, — one  for  the  poet  and  the  other  for  the  phi 
losopher.2  Thus  the  abstract  Being  so  admirably  delineated  by 
Tertullian  and  St.  Augustin  is  not  the  Jehovah  of  David  or  of 
Isaias :  both  are  far  superior  to  the  Theos  of  Plato  or  the  Jupiter 
of  Homer.  It  is  not,  therefore,  strictly  true  that  the  poetic  divini 
ties  of  the  Christians  are  wholly  destitute  of  passions.  The  God 


1  The  word  divinities  here  is  employed  in  a  wide  sense,  embracing  the  inhab 
itants  of  the  spirit-world.     T. 

2  That  is,  in  the  representation  or  delineation  of  the  Deity  by  means  of 
human  language.     T. 


310  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

of  the  Scriptures  repents,  he  is  jealous,  he  loves,  he  hates,  his 
wrath  is  roused  like  a  whirlwind ;  the  Son  of  man  takes  pity 
on  our  distresses}  the  Virgin,  the  saints,  and  the  angels,  arc 
melted  by  the  spectacle  of  our  afflictions,  and  Paradise,  in 
general,  is  much  more  deeply  interested  in  behalf  of  man  than 
Olympus. 

There  are  passions,  therefore,  among  our  celestial  powers,1  and 
these  passions  have  this  great  advantage  over  those  of  the  gods 
of  paganism,  that  they  never  lead  to  any  idea  of  depravity  and 
vice  It  is  indeed  very  remarkable  that,  in  depicting  the  indig 
nation  or  the  sorrow  of  the  Christian  heaven,  it  is  impossible  to 
destroy  the  sentiment  of  tranquillity  and  joy  in  the  imagination 
of  the  reader;  such  is  the  sanctity  and  the  justice  of  the  God 
that  is  pointed  out  by  our  religion. 

This  is  not  all :  for  if  you  positively  insist  that  the  God  of  the 
Christians  is  an  impassible  being,  still  you  may  have  impassioned 
divinities,  equally  dramatic  and  equally  malignant  with  those  of 
antiquity.  In  hell  are  concentrated  all  the  passions  of  men.  To 
us  our  theological  system  appears  more  beautiful,  more  regular, 
more  scientific,  than  the  fabulous  doctrine  which  intermingled 
men,  gods,  and  demons.  In  our  heaven  the  poet  finds  perfect 
beings,  but  yet  endued  with  sensibility  and  ranged  in  a  brilliant 
hierarchy  of  love  and  power ;  the  abyss  confines  its  gods  impas 
sioned  and  potent  in  evil,  like  the  gods  of  mythology ;  men  hold 
the  middle  place, — men,  allied  to  heaven  by  their  virtues  and  to 
hell  by  their  vices, — men,  beloved  of  the  angels,  hated  by  the 
devils,  the  unfortunate  objects  of  a  war  that  shall  never  terminate 
but  with  the  world. 

These  are  powerful  agents,  and  the  poet  has  no  reason  to  com 
plain.  As  to  the  actions  of  the  Christian  intelligences,  it  will  not 
be  a  difficult  task  to  prove  that  they  are  more  vast  and  more 
mighty  than  those  of  the  mythological  divinities.  Can  the  God 
who  governs  the  spheres,  who  propels  the  comets,  who  creates 
the  universe  and  light,  who  embraces  and  comprehends  all  ages, 
who  penetrates  into  the  most  secret  recesses  of  the  human  heart, 
—can  this  God  be  compared  with  a  deity  who  rides  abroad  in  a 
car,  who  lives  in  a  palace  of  gold  on  a  petty  mountain,  and  who 

1  Or  rather,  thrv  are  attributed  to  them  by  mankind. 


CHRISTIAN   AND   PAGAN   DIVINITIES.  311 

has  not  even  a  clear  foresight  of  the  future  ?  There  is  not  so 
much  as  the  slight  advantage  arising  from  visible  forms  and  the 
difference  of  sex  but  what  our  divinities  share  with  those  of 
Greece,  since  the  angels  in  Scripture  frequently  assume  the 
human  figure,  and  the  hierarchy  of  saints  is  composed  of  men 
and  women. 

But  who  can  prefer  a  saint  whose  history  sometimes  offends 
against  elegance  and  taste,  to  the  graceful  Naiad  attached  to  the 
sources  of  a  stream  ?  It  is  necessary  to  separate  the  terrestrial 
from  the  celestial  life  of  this  saint  •  on  earth  she  was  but  a  wo 
man  ;  her  divinity  begins  only  with  her  happiness  in  the  regions 
of  eternal  light.  You  must,  moreover,  continue  to  bear  in  mind 
that  the  Naiad  was  incompatible  with  descriptive  poetry,  that  a 
stream  represented  in  its  natural  course  is  much  more  pleasing 
than  in  its  allegorical  delineation,  and  that  we  gain  on  one  hand 
what  we  seem  to  lose  on  the  other. 

In  regard  to  battles,  whatever  has  been  advanced  against  Mil 
ton's  angels  may  be  retorted  upon  the  gods  of  Homer.  In  the  one 
case,  as  in  the  other,  they  are  divinities  for  whom  we  have  no 
thing  to  fear,  since  they  are  not  liable  to  death.  Mars  over 
thrown  and  covering  nine  acres  with  his  body, — Diana  giving 
Venus  a  blow  on  the  ear, — are  as  ridiculous  as  an  angel  cut  in  two 
and  the  severed  parts  uniting  again  like  a  serpent.  The  super 
natural  powers  may  still  preside  over  the  engagements  of  the 
epic ;  but,  in  our  opinion,  they  ought  not  to  interfere  except  in 
certain  cases,  which  it  is  the  province  of  taste  alone  to  determine; 
this  the  superior  genius  of  Virgil  suggested  to  him  more  than 
eighteen  hundred  years  ago. 

That  the  Christian  divinities,  however,  have  a  ridiculous  posi 
tion  in  battle  is  not  a  settled  point.  Satan  preparing  to  engage 
with  Michael  in  the  terrestrial  paradise  is  magnificent ;  the  God 
of  Hosts  advancing  in  a  dark  cloud  at  the  head  of  his  faithful 
legions  is  not  a  puny  image  j  the  exterminating  sword,  suddenly 
unsheathed  before  the  rebel  angels,  strikes  with  astonishment  and 
terror ;  the  sacred  armies  of  heaven,  sapping  the  foundations  of 
Jerusalem,  produce  as  grand  an  effect  as  the  hostile  gods  besieg 
ing  Priam's  palace  :  finally,  there  is  nothing  more  sublime  in 
Homer  than  the  conflict  between  Emanuel  and  the  reprobate 
spirits  in  Milton,  when,  plunging  them  into  the  abyss,  the  Son  of 


312  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 

man  "  checked  his  thunder  in  mid-volley,"  lest  he  should  anni- 
hilate  them. 

Hell  heard  the  unsufferable  noise;  hell  saw 
Heaven  running  from  heaven,  and  would  have  fled 
Affrighted ;  but  strict  fate  had  cast  too  deep 
Her  dark  foundations,  and  too  fast  had  bound. 


CHAPTER   V. 

CHARACTER   OF   THE   TRUE   GOD. 

WE  are  filled  with  admiration  when  we  consider  that  the  God 
of  Jacob  is  also  the  God  of  the  gospel ;  that  the  God  who  hurls 
the  thunderbolt  is  likewise  the  God  of  peace  and  innocence. 

He  forms  the  bud,  he  swells  the  ripening  fruit, 
And  gives  the  flowers  their  thousand  lovely  hues, 

Dispenses  sun  or  rain  as  best  may  suit, 
And  bids  cool  night  distil  refreshing  dews. 

We  are  of  opinion  that  there  is  no  need  of  proof  to  demonstrate 
how  superior,  in  a  poetical  point  of  view,  the  God  of  Christians 
is  to  the  Jupiter  of  antiquity.  At  the  command  of  the  former, 
rivers  roll  back  to  their  sources,  the  heavens  are  folded  like  a 
book,  the  seas  are  divided,  the  dead  rise  from  their  tombs,  and 
plagues  are  poured  forth  upon  nations.  In  him  the  sublime  ex 
ists  of  itself;  and  you  are  spared  the  trouble  of  seeking  it.  The 
Jupiter  of  Homer,  shaking  the  heavens  with  a  nod,  is  doubtless 
highly  majestic;  but  Jehovah  descends  into  the  chaos;  he  pro 
nounces  the  words,  "Let  there  be  light/'  and  the  fabulous  sou 
of  Saturn  dwindles  to  nothing. 

When  Jupiter  would  give  the  other  deities  an  idea  of  his  power, 
he  threatens  to  carry  them  off  by  the  end  of  a  chain.  Jehovah 
needs  no  chain,  nor  any  thing  of  the  kind. 

What  needs  his  mighty  arm  our  puny  aid? 
In  vain  the  monarchs  of  the  earth  combined 
Would  strive  to  shake  his  throne;  a  single  glance 
Dissolves  their  impious  league ;  he  speaks,  and  straight 
His  foes  lomtniugle  with  their  native  dust. 


CHARACTER   OF   THE   TRUE   GOD.  813 


At  his  dread  voice  affrighted  ocean  flees, 
And  heaven  itself  doth  tremble.     In  his  sight 
The  countless  spheres  that  glow  in  yon  expanse 
Are  nothing,  and  the  feeble  race  of  mortals 
As  though  it  ne'er  had  been.1 

When  Achilles  prepares  to  avenge  Patroclus,  Jupiter  announces 
to  the  immortals  that  they  are  at  liberty  to  take  part  in  the  con 
flict.  All  Olympus  is  immediately  convulsed  :  — 

Above,  the  sire  of  gods  his  thunder  rolls, 
And  peals  on  peals  redoubled  rend  the  poles. 
Beneath,  stern  Neptune  shakes  the  solid  ground; 
The  forests  wave,  the  mountains  nod  around  ; 
Through  all  their  summits  tremble  Ida's  woods, 
And  from  their  sources  boil  her  hundred  floods. 
Troy's  turrets  totter  on  the  rocking  plain  ; 
And  the  tossed  navies  beat  the  heaving  main. 
Deep  in  the  dismal  regions  of  the  dead 
The  infernal  monarch  reared  his  horrid  head,  &c.2 

This  passage  has  been  quoted  by  all  critics  as  the  utmost  effort 
of  the  sublime.  The  Greek  verses  are  admirable  :  they  present 
successively  the  thunder  of  Jupiter,  the  trident  of  Neptune,  and 
the  shriek  of  Pluto.  You  imagine  that  you  hear  the  thunder'^ 
roar  reverberating  through  all  the  valleys  of  Ida. 


The  sounds  of  the  words  which  occur  in  this  line  are  a  good 
imitation  of  the  peals  of  thunder,  divided,  as  it  were,  by  intervals 
of  silence,  toy,  re,  wv,  re.  Thus  does  the  voice  of  heaven,  in  a 
tempest,  alternately  rise  and  fall  in  the  recesses  of  the  forests. 
A  sudden  and  painful  silence,  vague  and  fantastic  images,  rapidly 
succeed  the  tumult  of  the  first  movements.  After  Pluto's  shriek 
you  feel  as  if  you  had  entered  the  empire  of  death  •  the  expres 
sions  of  Homer  drop  their  force  and  coloring,  while  a  multitude 
of  hissings  imitate  the  murmur  of  the  inarticulate  voices  of  the 
shades. 

Where  shall  we  find  a  parallel  to  this  ?  Has  Christian  poetry 
the  means  of  equalling  such  beauties  ?  Let  the  reader  judge. 
In  the  following  passage  the  Almighty  describes  himself  :  — 

"  There  went  up  a  smoke  in  his  wrath,  and  a  fire  flamed  from 
his  face  j  coals  were  kindled  by  it.  He  bowed  the  heavens  and 
came  down,  and  darkness  was  under  his  feet.  And  he  ascended 

i  Racine's  Esther.  2  Pope's  Homer,  book  xx.  75-84. 

27 


314  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 


apon  the  cherubim,  and  he  flew  upon  the  wings  of  the  winds 
And  he  made  darkness  his  covert,  his  pavilion  round  about  him 
dark  waters  in  the  clouds  of  the  air.  And  the  Lord  thundered 
from  heaven,  and  the  highest  gave  his  voice  j  hail  and  coals  of 
fire.  At  the  brightness  before  him  the  clouds  passed,  hail  and 
coals  of  fire.  And  he  sent  forth  his  arrows,  and  he  scattered 
them  :  he  multiplied  lightnings,  and  troubled  them.  Then  the 
fountains  of  waters  appeared,  and  the  foundations  of  the  world 
were  discovered.  At  thy  rebuke,  0  Lord,  at  the  blast  of  the 
spirit  of  thy  wrath/'1 

"It  must  be  admitted,"  says  La  Harpe,  "that  there  is  as  much 
difference  between  this  species  of  the  sublime  and  any  other  as 
between  the  spirit  of  God  and  the  spirit  of  man.  Here  we  behold 
the  conception  of  the  grand  in  its  principle.  The  rest  is  but  a 
shadow  of  it,  as  created  intelligence  is  but  a  feeble  emanation  of 
the  Intelligence  that  creates, — as  a  fiction,  however  excellent,  is 
but  a  shadow  of  truth,  and  derives  all  its  merit  from  a  funda 
mental  resemblance." 


CHAPTER   VI. 

OF    THE    SPIRITS    OF    DARKNESS. 

THE  deities  of  polytheism,  nearly  equal  in  power,  shared  the 
same  antipathies  and  the  same  affections.  If  they  happened 
to  be  opposed  to  each  other,  it  was  only  in  the  quarrels  of  mor 
tals.  They  were  soon  reconciled  by  drinking  nectar  together. 

Christianity,  on  the  contrary,  by  acquainting  us  with  the  real 
constitution  of  supernatural  beings,  has  exhibited  to  us  the  em 
pire  of  virtue  eternally  separated  from  that  of  vice.  It  has  re 
vealed  to  us  spirits  of  darkness  incessantly  plotting  the  ruin  of 
mankind,  and  spirits  of  light  solely  intent  on  the  means  of  saving 
them.  Hence  arises  an  eternal  conflict,  which  opens  to  the  imagi 
nation  a  source  of  numberless  beauties. 

1  Psalm  xvii. 


SPIRITS   OF   DARKNESS.  315 

This  sublime  species  of  the  marvellous  furnishes  an  ther  kind 
of  an  inferior  order;  that  is  to  say,  magic.  This  last  was 
known  to  the  ancients;  but  among  us  it  has  acquired,  as  a 
poetic  machine,  higher  importance  and  increased  extent.  Care 
must,  however,  be  always  taken  to  employ  it  with  discretion,  be 
cause  it  is  not  in  a  style  sufficiently  chaste.  It  is  above  all  defi 
cient  in  grandeur;  for,  borrowing  some  portion  of  its  power  from 
human  nature,  men  communicate  to  it  something  of  their  own  in 
significance. 

A  distinguishing  feature  in  our  supernatural  beings,  especially 
in  the  infernal  powers,  is  the  attribution  of  a  character.  We 
shall  presently  see  what  use  Milton  has  made  of  the  character  of 
pride,  assigned  by  Christianity  to  the  prince  of  darkness.  Having, 
moreover,  the  liberty  to  assign  a  wicked  spirit  to  each  vice,  he 
thus  disposes  of  a  host  of  infernal  divinities.  Nay,  more;  he 
then  obtains  the  genuine  allegory  without  having  the  insipidity 
which  accompanies  it;  as  these  perverse  spirits  are,  in  fact,  real 
beings,  and  such  as  our  religion  authorizes  us  to  consider  them. 

But,  if  the  demons  are  as  numerous  as  the  crimes  of  men,  they 
may  also  be  coupled  with  the  tremendous  incidents  of  nature. 
Whatever  is  criminal  and  irregular  in  the  moral  or  in  the  physical 
world  is  alike  within  their  province.  Care  must  only  be  taken 
when  they  are  introduced  in  earthquakes,  volcanic  eruptions,  and 
the  gloomy  recesses  of  an  aged  forest,  to  give  these  scenes  a 
majestic  character.  The  poet  should,  with  exquisite  taste,  make 
a  distinction  between  the  thunder  of  the  Most  High  and  the 
empty  noise  raised  by  a  perfidious  spirit.  Let  not  the  lightnings 
be  kindled  but  in  the  hands  of  God.  Let  them  never  burst  from 
the  storm  excited  by  the  powers  of  hell.  Let  the  latter  be  always 
sombre  and  ominous.  Let  not  its  clouds  be  reddened  by  wrath 
or  propelled  by  the  wind  of  justice.  Let  them  be  pale  and  livid, 
like  those  of  despair,  and  be  driven  by  the  impure  blasts  of 
hatred  alone.  In  these  storms  there  should  be  felt  a  power 
mighty  only  in  destruction.  There  should  be  found  that  incon 
gruity,  that  confusion,  that  kind  of  energy  for  evil,  which  has 
something  disproportionate  and  gigantic,  like  the  chaos  whence  it 
derives  its  origin. 


316  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

OF    THE    SAINT" 

IT  is  certain  that  the  poets  have  not  availed  themselves  of  all 
the  stores  with  which  the  marvellous  of  Christianity  is  capable  of 
supplying  the  Muses.  Philosophers  may  laugh  at  the  saints  and 
angels;  but  had  not  the  ancients  themselves  their  demi-gods? 
Pythagoras,  Plato,  Socrates,  recommend  the  worship  of  those  mor 
tals  whom  they  denominate  heroes.  "  Honor  the  heroes  full  of 
benignity  and  intelligence,"  says  the  first  in  his  Golden  Verses; 
and,  that  the  term  heroes  may  not  be  mistaken,  Hierocles  inter 
prets  it  exactly  in  the  same  manner  as  Christianity  explains  the 
appellation  of  saint.  "  These  heroes,  full  of  benignity  and  intelli 
gence,  are  always  thinking  of  their  Creator,  and  are  resplendent 
with  the  light  reflected  by  the  felicity  which  they  enjoy  in  him." 
"The  term  heroes,"  says  he  in  another  place,  " comes  from  a 
Greek  word  that  signifies  love,  to  intimate  that,  full  of  love  for 
God,  the  heroes  seek  only  to  assist  us  to  pass  from  this  earthly 
state  to  a  divine  life,  and  to  become  citizens  of  heaven."1  The 
fathers  of  the  Church  also  give  to  the  saints  the  appellation  of 
heroes.  In  this  sense  they  say  that  baptism  is  the  priesthood  of 
the  laity,  and  that  it  makes  all  Christians  kings  and  priests  unto 
God  ?  and  heroes  assuredly  were  all  those  illustrious  martyrs 
who,  subduing  the  passions  of  their  hearts  and  defying  the  malig 
nity  of  men,  have,  by  their  glorious  efforts,  deserved  a  place  among 
the  celestial  powers.  Under  polytheism  sophists  sometimes  ap 
peared  more  moral  than  the  religion  of  their  country;  but  among 
us,  never  has  a  philosopher,  however  extraordinary  his  wisdom, 
risen  higher  than  Christian  morality.  While  Socrates  honored 
the  memory  of  the  just,  paganism  held  forth  to  the  veneration  of 
the  people  villains,  whose  corporeal  strength  was  their  only  virtue 
and  who  were  polluted  with  every  specie>  of  crime.  If  the 
honors  of  apotheosis  were  conferred  on  good  kings,  had  not  also 

1  Hierocl.,  Com.  in  Pyth.  2  Hieron.,  Dial.  cont.  Lvcif.,  i.  ii.  p.  136. 


THE  SAINTS.  317 


a  Tiberius  and  a  Nero  their  priests  and  their  temples?  Holy 
mortals  whom  the  Church  of  Christ  commands  us  to  revere,  ye 
were  neither  the  strong  nor  the  mighty  among  men  !  Born,  many 
of  you,  in  the  cottage  of  indigence,  ye  have  exhibited  to  the  world 
nothing  more  than  an  humble  life  and  obscure  misfortunes.  Shall 
we  never  hear  aught  but  blasphemies  against  a  religion  which, 
deifying  indigence,  hardship,  simplicity,  and  virtue,  has  laid  pros 
trate  at  their  feet  wealth,  prosperity,  splendor,  and  vice  ? 

What  is  there  so  incompatible  with  poetry  in  those  anchorets 
of  Thebais,  with  their  white  staves  and  their  garments  of  palm- 
leaves?  The  birds  of  heaven  bring  them  food;1  the  lions  of  the 
desert  carry  their  messages3  or  dig  their  graves.3  Familiars  of 
the  angels,  they  fill  with  miracles  the  deserts  where  Memphis 
once  stood,4  and  Horeb  and  Sinai,  Cannel  and  Lebanon,  the  brook 
Cedron  and  the  valley  of  Jehoshaphat,  still  proclaim  the  glory  of 
the  monk  and  of  the  hermit  of  the  rock.  The  Muses  love  to 
meditate  in  these  antique  cloisters,  peopled  with  the  shades  of 
an  Anthony,  a  Pachomius,  a  Benedict,  and  a  Basil.  The  apostles 
preaching  the  gospel  to  the  first  believers  in  catacombs,  or  beneath 
the  date-tree  of  the  desert,  were  not,  in  the  eyes  of  a  Michael 
Angelo  or  a  Raphael,  subjects  so  exceedingly  unfavorable  to 
genius. 

As  we  shall  recur  to  the  subject  in  the  sequel,  we  shall  at 
present  say  nothing  concerning  all  those  benefactors  of  mankind 
who  founded  hospitals  and  devoted  themselves  to  the  miseries  of 
poverty,  pestilence,  and  slavery,  in  order  to  relieve  the  afflicted. 
We  shall  confine  ourselves  to  the  Scriptures  alone,  lest  we  become 
bewildered  in  a  subject  so  vast  and  so  interesting.  May  we  not 
suppose,  then,  that  the  Josues,  the  Eliases,  the  Isaiases,  the  Jere- 
miases,  the  Daniels,  in  a  word,  all  those  prophets  who  are  now 
enjoying  eternal  life,  could  breathe  forth  their  sublime  lamenta 
tions  in  exquisite  poetry?  Cannot  the  urn  of  Jerusalem  still  be 
filled  with  their  tears?  Are  there  no  more  willows  of  Babylon 
upon  which  they  may  hang  their  unstrung  harps  ?  As  for  us, 
though  we  pretend  not  to  a  rank  among  the  poets,  we  think  that 


1  Hieron.,  in  Vit.  Paul.       2  Theod.,  Hist.  Relig.,  chap.  vi.       3  Hieron.,  lUd. 
4  We  here  make  but  slight  mention  of  these  recluses,  because  we  shall  speak 
of  them  in  another  place. 
27* 


318  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

these  som  of  prophecy  would  form  very  striking  groups  among 
the  clouds.  Picture  to  yourselves  their  heads  encircled  with  ra- 
d'iance,  silvery  beards  sweeping  their  immortal  breasts,  and  the 
Spirit  of  God  himself  beaming  from  their  resplendent  eyes. 

But  what  a  host  of  venerable  shades  is  roused  by  the  strain* 
of  the  Christian  Muse  in  the  cavern  of  Mambre !  Abraham, 
Isaac,  Jacob,  Rebecca,  and  all  ye  children  of  the  East,— ye  patri 
archs,  kings,  and  ancestors  of  Jesus  Christ, — sing  the  ancient 
covenant  between  God  and  man !  Repeat  to  us  that  history, 
dear  to  heaven,  the  history  of  Joseph  and  his  brethren !  The 
choir  of  holy  monarchs,  with  David  at  their  head, — the  army  of 
confessors  and  martyrs  clad  in  bright  robes, — would  also  furnish 
us  with  some  exquisite  touches  of  the  marvellous.  The  latter 
supply  the  pencil  with  the  tragic  style  in  its  highest  elevation. 
Having  depicted  their  sufferings,  we  might  relate  what  God  ac 
complished  for  those  holy  victims,  and  touch  upon  the  gift  of 
miracles  with  which  he  honored  their  tombs.  Then  we  would 
station  near  these  august  choirs  the  band  of  heavenly  virgins,  the 
Genevieves,  the  Pulcherias,  the  Rosalias,  the  Cecilias,  the  Lu- 
cillas,  the  Isabellas,  the  Eulalias.  The  marvellous  of  Christianity 
presents  the  most  pleasing  contrasts. 

;Tis  well  known  how  Neptune, 

Rising  from  the  deep, 
Calms  with  a  single  word  the  infuriate  waves. 

Our  doctrines  furnish  us  with  a  very  different  kind  of  poetry. 
A  ship  is  on  the  point  of  perishing.  The  chaplain,  by  mysterious 
words  which  absolve  the  soul,  remits  to  each  one  the  guilt  of  his 
sins.  He  addresses  Heaven  in  that  prayer  which,  amid  the  up 
roar  of  the  elements,  commends  the  spirits  of  the  shipwrecked 
to  the  God  of  tempests.  Already  the  abysses  of  ocean  yawn  to 
engulf  the  ill-fated  vessel.  Already  the  billows,  raising  their 
dismal  voices  among  the  rocks,  seem  to  begin  the  funeral  dirge; 
but  suddenly  a  ray  of  light  bursts  through  the  storm.  Mary,  the 
star  of  the  sea,  the  patroness  of  mariners,  appears  in  the  midst  of 
a  cloud.  She  holds  her  chile  i  i  her  arms,  and  calms  the  waves 
with  a  smile.  Charming  religion,  which  opposes  to  what  is  most 
terrific  in  nature  what  is  most  lovely  on  earth  and  in  heaven, — to 
whe  tempests  of  ocean  a  little  infant  and  a  tender  mother ! 


THE   ANGELS.  319 


CHAPTER   VIII. 

OF   THE   ANGELS. 

SUCH  is  the  kind  of  marvellous  which  may  be  derived  from 
our  saints  without  entering  into  the  varied  history  of  their  lives. 
But  we  discover  also  in  the  hierarchy  of  the  angels,  a  doctrine  as 
ancient  as  the  world,  an  immense  treasure  for  the  poet.  Not 
only  are  the  commands  of  the  Most  High  conveyed  from  one 
extremity  of  the  universe  to  the  other  by  these  divine  mes 
sengers, — not  only  are  they  the  invisible  guardians  of  men,  or 
assume,  when  they  would  manifest  themselves,  the  most  lovely 
forms, — but  religion  permits  us  to  assign  tutelary  angels  to  the 
beautiful  incidents  of  nature  as  well  as  to  the  virtuous  senti 
ments.  What  an  innumerable  multitude  of  divinities  is  thus  all 
at  once  introduced  to  people  the  spheres  ! 

Among  the  Greeks,  heaven  terminated  at  the  summit  of  Mount 
Olympus,  and  their  gods  ascended  no  higher  than  the  vapors  of 
the  earth.  The  marvellous  of  Christianity,  harmonizing  with 
reason,  astronomy,  and  the  expansion  of  the  soul,  penetrates  from 
world  to  world,  from  universe  to  universe,  through  successions 
of  space  from  which  the  astonished  imagination  recoils.  In  vain 
does  the  telescope  explore  every  corner  of  the  heavens ;  in  vain 
does  it  pursue  the  comet  through  our  system;  the  comet  at 
length  flies  beyond  their  reach ;  but  it  cannot  delude  the  arch 
angel,  who  rolls  it  on  to  its  unknown  pole,  and  who,  at  the  ap 
pointed  time,  will  bring  it  back  by  mysterious  ways  into  the  very 
focus  of  our  sun. 

The  Christian  poet  alone  is  initiated  into  the  secret  of  these 
wonders.  From  globe  to  globe,  from  sun  to  sun,  with  the  sera 
phim,  thrones,  and  dominations  that  govern  the  spheres,  the 
weary  imagination  again  descends  to  earth,  like  a  river  which,  by 
a  magnificent  cascade,  pours  forth  its  golden  current  opposite  to 
the  sun  setting  in  radiant  majesty.  From  grand  and  imposing 
images  you  pass  to  those  which  are  soft  and  attractive.  In  the 
shady  forest  you  traverse  the  domain  of  the  Angel  of  Solitude; 


820  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

in  the  soft  moonlight  you  find  the  Genius  of  the  musing  heart; 
you  hear  his  sighs  in  the  murmur  of  the  woods  and  in  the  plain 
tive  notes  of  Philomela.  The  roseate  tints  of  the  dawn  are  the 
streaming  hair  of  the  Angel  of  Morning.  The  Angel  of  Night 
reposes  in  the  midst  of  the  firmament  like  the  moon  slumbering 
upon  a  cloud ;  his  eyes  are  covered  with  a  bandage  of  stars,  while 
his  feet  and  his  forehead  are  tinged  with  blushes  of  twilight  and 
Aurora;  an  Angel  of  Silence  goes  before  him,  and  he  is  followed 
by  the  Angel  of  Mystery.  Let  us  not  wrong  the  poets  by  think 
ing  that  they  look  upon  the  Angel  of  the  Seas,  the  Angel  of 
Tempests,  the  Angel  of  Time,  and  the  Angel  of  Death,  as  spirits 
disagreeable  to  the  Muses.  The  Angel  of  Holy  Love  gives  the 
virgin  a  celestial  look,  and  the  Angel  of  Harmony  adorns  her 
with  graces;  the  good  man  owes  the  uprightness  of  his  heart 
to  the  Angel  of  Virtue  and  the  power  of  his  words  to  the  Angel 
of  Persuasion.  There  is  nothing  to  prevent  our  assigning  to 
these  beneficent  spirits  attributes  distinctive  of  their  powers  and 
functions.  The  Angel  of  Friendship,  for  instance,  might  wear  a 
girdle  infinitely  more  wonderful  than  the  cestus  of  Venus;  foi 
here  might  be  seen,  interwoven  by  a  divine  hand,  the  consola 
tions  of  the  soul,  sublime  devotion,  the  secret  aspirations  of  the 
heart,  innocent  joys,  pure  religion,  the  charm  of  the  tombs,  and 
immortal  hope.1 

1  If  we  except  Milton,  never  was  a  more  poetical  use  made  of  the  agency  of 
the  heavenly  messengers  than  by  Addison  in  the  Campaign.  He  thus  sublimely 
depicts  the  Angel  of  Vengeance : — 

So,  when  an  angel  by  divine  command 
With  rising  tempests  shakes  a  guilty  land, 
Such  as  of  late  o'er  pale  Britannia  past, 
Calm  and  serene  he  drives  the  furious  blast, 
And,  pleased  the  Almighty's  orders  to  perform, 
Rides  in  the  whirlwind  and  directs  the  storm. 


CHARACTER   OF   SATAN.  321 


CHAPTER  IX. 

APPLICATION    OF    THE    PRINCIPLES    ESTABLISHED   IN    THE    PRE 
CEDING    CHAPTERS — CHARACTER   OF    SATAN. 

FROM  precepts  let  us  pass  to  examples.  On  resuming  the 
subject  of  the  preceding  chapters,  we  shall  begin  with  the  cha 
racter  ascribed  to  the  fallen  angels  by  Milton. 

Dante  and  Tasso  had,  prior  to  the  English  poet,  depicted  the 
monarch  of  hell.  The  imagination  of  Dante,  exhausted  by  nine 
circles  of  torment,  has  made  simply  an  atrocious  monster  of  Satan, 
locked  up  in  the  centre  of  the  earth.  Tasso,  by  giving  him  horns, 
has  almost  rendered  him  ridiculous.  Misled  by  these  authorities, 
Milton  had,  for  a  moment,  the  bad  taste  to  measure  his  Satan ; 
but  he  soon  recovers  himself  in  a  sublime  manner.  Hear  the 
exclamation  of  the  Prince  of  Darkness  from  the  summit  of  a 
mountain  of  fire,  whence  he  surveys,  for  the  first  time,  his  new 
dominions  :* — 

Farewell,  happy  fields, 

Where  joy  forever  dwells !  hail,  horrors,  hail ! 
Infernal  world,  and  thou  profoundest  hell, 
Receive  thy  new  possessor;  one  who  brings 
A  rnind  not  to  be  changed  by  place  or  time ! 

Here  at  least 

We  shall  be  free 

Here  we  may  reign  secure,  and,  in  my  choice, 
To  reign  is  worth  ambition,  though  in  hell. 

What  a  mode  of  taking  possession  of  the  infernal  abyss ! 
The  council  of  fallen  spirits  being  assembled,  the  poet  thus 
represents  Satan  in  the  midst  of  his  senate  :3 — 

His  form  had  not  yet  lost 
All  her  original  brightness,  nor  appeared 
Less  than  archangel  ruined,  and  the  excess 
Of  glory,  obscured;  as  when  the  sun  new  risen 
Looks  through  the  horizontal,  misty  air, 
Shorn  of  his  beams,  or  from  behind  the  moon 
In  dim  eclipse  disastrous  twilight  sheds 
On  half  the  nations,  and  with  fear  of  change 
Perplexes  monarchs.     Darkened  so,  yet  shone 

'  Paradise  Lost,  b.  i.  249.  2  Paradise  Lost,  b.  i.  591. 


322  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Above  them  all  the  Archangel:  but  his  face 
Deep  scars  of  thunder  had  intrenched,  and  car* 
Sat  on  his  faded  cheek 

Let  us  complete  the  delineation  of  the  character  of  Satan. 
Having  escaped  from  hell  and  reached  the  earth,  overwhelmed 
with  despair,  while  contemplating  the  universe,  he  thus  apostm- 
phizes  the  sun  :* — 

Oh  thou,  that,  with  surpassing  glory  crowned, 
Look'st  from  thy  sole  dominion,  like  the  God 
Of  this  new  world, — at  whose  sight  all  the  stars 
Hide  their  diminished  heads, — to  thee  t  call, 
But  with  no  friendly  voice,  and  add  thy  name, 

0  Sur ,  to  tell  thee  how  I  hate  thy  beams, 
That  bring  to  my  remembrance  from  what  state 

1  fell,  how  glorious  once  above  thy  sphere; 
Till  pride  and  worse  ambition  threw  me  down, 
Warring  in  heaven  against  heaven's  matchless  King. 
Ah,  wherefore  !  he  deserved  no  such  return 

From  me,  whom  he  created  what  I  was 

In  that  bright  eminence 

Lifted  up  so  high, 

I  'sdained  subjection,  and  thought  one  step  higher 
Would  set  me  highest,  and  in  a  moment  quit 

The  debt  immense  of  endless  gratitude 

Oh,  had  his  powerful  destiny  ordained 

Me  some  inferior  angel,  I  had  stood 

Then  happy;  no  unbounded  hope  had  raised 

Ambition 

Me  miserable  !  which  way  shall  I  fly 
Infinite  wrath  and  Infinite  despair? 

Which  way  I  fly  is  hell ;  myself  am  hell 

Oh  then  at  last  relent :  is  there  no  place 
Left  for  repentance,  none  for  pardon  left? 
None  left  but  by  submission  ;  and  that  word 
Disdain  fodoids  me,  and  the  dread  of  shame 
Among  the  spirits  beneath,  whom  I  seduced 
With  other  promises  and  other  vaunts, 
Than  to  submit,  boasting  I  could  subdue 
The  Omnipotent     Ah  me  !  they  little  know 
How  dearly  I  abide  that  boast  so  vain, 
Under  what  torments  inwardly  I  groan, 
While  they  adore  me  on  the  throne  of  hell.  .  .  . 

But  say  I  could  repent,  and  could  obtain 
By  act  of  grace  my  former  state ;  how  soon 
Would  height  recall  my  thoughts  !  how  soon  unsay 
What  feigned  submission  swore  ! 

1  Paradise  Lost,  b.  iv.,  from  verse  33  to  1 13,  with  a  few  omissions.   See  note  S. 


CHARACTER   OF   SATAN.  323 

This  knows  my  punisher ;  therefore  as  far 

From  granting  he  as  I  from  begging  peace: 

All  hope  excluded  thus,  behold,  instead 

Of  us  outcast,  exiled,  his  new  delight, 

Mankind  created,  and  for  him  this  world. 

So  farewell  hope,  and,  with  hope,  farewell  fear, 

Farewell  remorse ;  all  good  to  me  is  lost  ; 

Evil,  be  thou  my  good :  by  thee,  at  least, 

Divided  empire  with  heaven's  King  I  hold 

By  thee,  and  more  than  half  perhaps  will  reign, 

As  man  ere  long  and  this  new  world  shall  know. 

How  exalted  soever  may  be  our  admiration  of  Homer,  we  are 
obliged  to  admit  that  lie  has  nothing  which  can  be  compared  to 
this  passage.  When,  in  conjunction  with  the  grandeur  of  the 
subject,  the  excellence  of  the  poetry,  the  natural  elevation  of  the 
characters,  so  intimate  an  acquaintance  with  the  passions  is  dis 
played,  what  more  can  justly  be  required  of  genius  ?  Satan 
repenting  when  he  beholds  the  light,  which  he  hates  because  it 
reminds  him  how  much  more  glorious  was  once  his  own  con 
dition;  afterward  wishing  that  he  had  been  created  of  an  inferioi 
rank  j  then  hardening  himself  in  guilt  by  pride,  by  shame,  and 
by  mistrust  itself  of  his  ambitious  cliaracter ;  finally,  as  the  sole 
result  of  his  reflections,  and  as  if  to  atone  for  a  transient  re 
morse,  taking  upon  himself  the  empire  of  evil  throughout  all 
eternity — this  is  certainly  one  of  the  most  sublime  conceptions 
that  ever  sprang  from  the  imagination  of  a  poet. 

An  idea  here  strikes  us,  which  we  cannot  forbear  to  communi 
cate.  Whoever  possesses  discernment  and  a  knowledge  of  his 
tory,  must  perceive  that  Milton  has  introduced  into  the  character 
of  Satan  the  perverseness  of  those  men,  who  about  the  middle 
of  the  seventeenth  century  filled  England  with  mourning  and 
wretchedness.  You  even  discover  in  him  the  same  obstinacy, 
the  same  enthusiasm,  the  same  pride,  the  same  spirit  of  rebellion 
and  intolerance ;  you  meet  with  the  principles  of  those  infamous 
levellers,  who,  seceding  from  the  religion  of  their  country,  shook 
off  the  yoke  of  all  legitimate  government,  revolting  at  once 
against  God  and  man.  Milton  had  himself  imbibed  this  spirit 
of  perdition;  and  the  poet  could  not  have  imagined  a  Satan  so 
detestable,  unless  he  had  seen  his  image  in  one  of  those  repro 
bates  who,  for  such  a  length  of  time,  transformed  their  country 
into  n  real  abode  of  demons. 


324  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  X. 

POETICAL    MACHINERY. 

Venus  in  the  woods  of  Carthage — Raphael  in  the  bowers  of  Eden 
WE  shall  now  quote  some  examples  of  poetical  machinery. 
Venus  appearing  to  Muezs  in  the  woods  of  Carthage  is  a  passage 
composed  in  the  most  graceful  style.  "  His  mother,  pursuing 
the  same  path  across  the  forest,  suddenly  stands  before  him.  She 
had  the  figure  and  the  face  of  a  nymph,  and  was  armed  after  the 
manner  of  the  virgins  of  Tyre." 

This  poetry  is  charming  j  but  has  the  bard  of  Eden  fallen  short 
of  it,  when  describing  the  arrival  of  the  angel  Raphael  at  the 
bower  of  our  first  parents  ? 

Six  wings  he  wore,  to  shade 
His  lineaments  divine  ;  the  pair  that  clad 
Each  shoulder  broad  came  mantling  o'er  his  breast 
With  regal  ornament ;  the  middle  pair 
Girt  like  a  starry  zone  his  waist ; 

....  the  third  his  feet 
Shadowed  from  either  heel  with  feathered  mail 

Sky-tinctured  grain He  stood 

And  shook  his  plumes,  that  heavenly  fragrance  filled 
The  circuit  wide 

....  He  now  is  come 

Into  the  blissful  field  through  groves  of  myrrh 
And  flowering  odors,  cassia,  nard,  and  balm, 
A  wilderness  of  sweets ;  for  Nature  here 
Wantoned  as  in  her  prime,  and  played  at  will 

Her  virgin  fancies 

Him  through  the  spicy  forest  onward  come, 
Adam  discerned,  as  in  the  door  he  sat, 

....  and  thus  he  called  : — 
Haste  hither,  Eve,  and  worth  thy  sight  behold, 
Eastward  among  those  trees  what  glorious  shape 
Comes  this  way  moving  j  seems  another  morn 
Risen  on  mid-noon. 

In  this  passage,  Milton,  little  inferior  in  grace  to  Virgil,  sur- 
the  Ronan  poet  in   sanctity  and  grandeur.     Raphael  is 


THE   ANGEL   RAPHAEL.  325 

more  beautiful  than  Venus,  Eden  more  delicious  than  the  woods 
of  Carthage,  and  ^neas  is  a  cold  and  insignificant  character  in 
comparison  with  the  majestic  father  of  mankind. 

Here  is  a  description  of  one  of  Klopstock's  mystical  angels  : — 
"The  first-born  of  the  Thrones  quickly  descended  toward 
Gabriel,  to  conduct  him  in  solemn  state  into  the  presence  of  Ae 
Most  High.  By  the  Eternal  he  is  called  the  Elect,  and  by  H*  *- 
ven,  Eloa.  He  is  the  highest  of  all  created  beings,  and  next  m 
rank  to  the  Essence  increate ;  a  single  thought  of  his  is  as  beau 
tiful  as  the  whole  soul  of  man  when,  worthy  of  immortality,  it  is 
absorbed  in  profound  meditation.  His  looks  are  more  lovely  than 
the  vernal  morn  ;  brighter  than  the  stars  when,  in  youthful  splen 
dor,  they  issued  from  their  Creator's  hands  to  run  their  appointed 
courses.  He  was  the  first  being  that  God  created.  From  the 
crimson  dawn  he  formed  his  ethereal  body.  When  he  received 
existence,  a  heaven  of  clouds  floated  around  him ;  God  himself 
raised  him  -from  them  in  his  arms,  and,  blessing  him,  said,  Crea 
ture,  here  afn,  I!"1 

Raphael  is  the  external,  Eloa  the  internal,  angel.  The  Mer 
curies  and  the  Apollos  of  mythology  seem  to  us  less  divine  than 
these  genii  of  Christianity. 

The  gods  in  Homer  fight  with  each  other  on  several  occasions ; 
but  we  there  meet  with  nothing  superior  to  the  preparations  of 
Satan  for  giving  battle  to  Gabriel  in  paradise,  or  to  the  over 
throw  of  the  rebel  legions  by  the  thunderbolts  of  Emanuel.  The 
divinities  of  the  Iliad  several  times  rescue  their  favorite  heroes 
by  covering  them  with  a  cloud;  but  this  machine  has  been  most 
happily  transferred  to  Christian  poetry  by  Tasso,  when  he  intro 
duces  Solyman  into  Jerusalem.2  The  car  enveloped  in  vapor, — 
the  invisible  journey  of  an  aged  enchanter  and  a  hero  through 
the  camp  of  the  Christians, — the  secret  gate  of  Herod, — the  al 
lusions  to  ancient  times  interwoven  with  a  rapid  narrative, — the 
warrior  who  attends  a  council  without  being  seen,  and  who  shows 
himself  only  to  urge  Jerusalem  to  make  a  longer  resistance, — all 
this  marvellous  machinery,  though  of  the  magic  kind,  possesses 
extraordinary  excellence. 

It  may  perhaps  be  objected  that  paganism  has  at  least  the 

'  Metaias.,  Erst.  ges.  v.  286,  Ac.  "  Book  x. 

28 


326  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

superiority  over  Christianity  in  the  description  of  the  voluptuous 
What  shall  we  say,  then,  of  Armida  ?  Is  she  devoid  of  charms 
when,  leaning  over  the  forehead  of  the  slumbering  Renaud,  the 
dagger  drops  from  her  hand  and  her  hatred  is  transformed  into 
love  ?  Is  Ascanius,  concealed  by  Venus  in  the  Cytherean  forests, 
more  pleasing  than  the  young  hero  of  Tasso  who  is  bound  with 
flowery  chains  and  transported  to  the  Fortunate  Isles  ?  There  is 
certainly  no  excess  of  the  serious  in  those  gardens  whose  only 
fault  is  to  be  too  enchanting  or  in  those  loves  that  require  only 
to  be  covered  with  a  veil.  We  find  in  this  episode  even  the 
cestus  of  Venus,  the  omission  of  which  in  other  places  has  been 
BO  much  regretted.  If  discontented  critics  would  have  the  use 
of  magic  altogether  banished  from  poetry,  the  spirits  of  darkness 
might  become  the  principal  actors  themselves,  instead  of  being 
the  agents  of  men.  The  facts  recorded  in  the  Lives  of  the  Saints 
would  authorize  such  imagery,  and  the  demon  of  sensualism  has 
always  been  considered  as  one  of  the  most  dangerous  *iwl  most 
powerful  among  the  infernal  spirits. 


CHAPTER  XL 

DREAM   OF   AENEAS — DREAM   OF  ATHALIE. 

WE  have  now  but  two  species  of  poetic  machinery  to  treat  of 
— the  journeys  of  the  gods,  and  dreams. 

To  begin  with  the  latter,  we  shall  select  the  dream  of 
on  the  fatal  night  of  the  destruction  of  Troy,  which  the 
himself  thus  relates  to  Dido  : — 

'Twas  in  the  dead  of  night,  when  sleep  repairs 
Otr  bodies  worn  with  toils,  our  minds  with  cares, 
"When  Hector's  ghost  before  my  sight  appears  : 
A  bloody  shroud  he  seemed,  and  bathed  in  tears. 
Such  as  he  was  when,  by  Pelides  slain, 
Thessalian  coursers  dragged  him  o'er  the  plain. 
Swoln  were  his  feet,  as  when  the  thongs  were  thrust 
Through  the  bored  holes,  his  body  black  with  dust; 
Unlike  that  Hector  who  returned  from  toils 
Of  war  triumphant  in  JEacian  spoils, 


DREAM  OF  JENEAS  327 


Or  him  who  made  the  fainting  Greeks  retire, 

And  launched  against  their  navy  Phrygian  fire. 

His  hair  and  beard  stood  stiftened  with  his  gore, 

And  all  the  wounds  he  for  his  country  bore 

Now  streamed  afresh,  and  with  new  purple  ran. 

I  wept  to  see  the  visionary  man, 

And  while  my  trance  continued  thus  began  : 

0  light  of  Trojans  and  support  of  Troy, 

Thy  father's  champion  and  thy  country's  joy  ! 

0  long-expected  by  thy  friends  !  from  whence 

Art  thou  so  late  returned  for  our  defence? 

Do  we  behold  thee,  wearied  as  we  are 

With  length  of  labors  and  with  toils  of  war? 

After  so  many  funerals  of  thy  own, 

Art  thou  restored  to  our  declining  town  ? 

But  say,  what  wounds  are  these  ?  what  new  disgrace 

Deforms  the  manly  features  of  thy  face  ? 

To  this  the  spectre  no  reply  did  frame, 

But  answered  to  the  cause  for  which  he  came, 

And,  groaning  from  the  bottom  of  his  breast, 

This  warning  in  these  mournful  words  expressed : 

0  goddess-born  !  escape,  by  timely  flight, 

The  flames  and  horrors  of  this  fatal  night; 

The  foes  already  have  possessed  the  wall; 

Troy  nods  from  high  and  totters  to  her  fall. 

Enough  is  paid  to  Priam's  royal  name, 

More  than  enough  to  duty  and  to  fame. 

If  by  a  mortal  hand  my  father's  throne 

Could  be  defended,  'twas  by  mine  alone : 

Now  Troy  to  thee  commends  her  future  state, 

And  gives  her  gods  companions  of  thy  fate : 

From  their  assistance  happier  walls  expect, 

Which,  wandering  long,  at  last  thou  shalt  erect. 

He  said,  and  brought  me  from  their  blest  abodes 

The  venerable  statues  of  the  gods, 

With  ancient  Vesta  from  the  sacred  choir, 

The  wreaths  and  relics  of  the  immortal  fire.1 

This  dream  deserves  particular  attention,  because  it  is  an  epi 
tome,  as  it  were,  of  Virgil's  genius,  and  displays,  in  a  narrow 
compass,  all  the  species  of  beauties  peculiar  to  that  poet. 

We  are  struck,  in  the  first  place,  with  the  contrast  between 
this  terrific  dream  and  the  peaceful  hour  in  which  it  is  sent  by 
the.  gods  to  JEneas.  No  one  has  referred  to  times  and  places 
with  more  impressive  effect  than  the  Mantuan  poet.  Here  it  is 

1  Dryden's  Virgil,  book  ii.  «  • 


328  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

a  tomb,  there  some  affecting  adventure,  that  determines  the  limit? 
of  a  country  '}  a  new  city  bears  an  ancient  appellation  ;  a  foreign 
stream  assumes  the  name  of  a  river  in  one's  native  land.  As  to 
the  hours,  Virgil  has  almost  always  coupled  the  most  tranquil 
time  with  the  most  distressing  events,  producing  a  contrast  re 
plete  with  melancholy,  and  which  recalls  the  philosophic  moral 
that  nature  fulfils  her  laws  undisturbed  by  the  petty  revolutions 
in  human  things. 

The  delineation  of  Hector's  ghost  is  also  worthy  of  notice.  The 
phantom,  surveying  j&neas  in  silence,  his  big  tears,  his  swollen 
feet,  are  minor  circumstances  of  which  the  great  painter  invari 
ably  avails  himself  to  give  identity  to  the  object.  The  words  of 
JEneas — quantum  mutatus  ab  illo  I — are  the  exclamation  of  a  hero, 
duly  sensible  of  Hector's  merits  and  taking  a  retrospective  view 
of  the  whole  history  of  Troy.  In  the  squallentem  barbam  et  con- 
cretos  sanguine  crines  you  see  the  perfect  spectre.  But  Virgil, 

after  his  manner,  suddenly  changes  the  idea  : —  Vulnera 

circum  plurima  muros  accepit  patrios.  How  comprehensive  are 
these  words  ! — a  eulogy  on  Hector,  the  memory  of  his  misfortunes 
and  those  of  his  country,  for  which  he  received  so  many  wounds. 
0  lux  Dard anise  !  Spes  6  fidissima  Teucrum  !  are  exclamations 
fraught  with  genuine  ardor.  How  deeply  pathetic  and  how 
keenly  painful  do  they  render  the  succeeding  words  :  ut  te  post 
multa  tuorum  funera  .  .  .  adspicimus!  Alas!  this  is  the  his 
tory  of  those  who  leave  their  country.  On  their  return  we  may 
address  them  in  the  words  of  ^Eneas  to  Hector : — 

After  so  many  funerals  of  thy  own, 

Art  thou  restored  to  our  declining  town  ?* 

The  silence  of  Hector,  his  deep  sigh,  followed  by  the  exhorta 
tion, — fuge,  eripe  Jlammis, — are  also  striking  circumstances,  and 
cannot  fail  to  produce  effects  of  terror  and  consternation  in  the 
mind  of  the  reader.  The  last  trait  in  the  picture  combines  the 
twofold  imagery  of  dream  and  vision ;  and  it  seems  as  if  the 
spectre  were  removing  Troy  itself  from  the  earth  when  he  hur 
ries  off  with  the  statue  of  Vesta  and  the  sacred  fire  in  his  arms. 

There  is,  moreover,  in  this  dream,  a  beauty  derived  from  the 

1  The  author  could  not  refrain  from  this  observation,  after  having  expe 
rienced  tke  truth  of  it  in  all  its  terrible  reality.  E. 


DREAM  OF   ATHALIE.  329 

very  nature  of  the  thing,  ^neas  at  first  rejoices  to  see  Hector, 
under  the  impression  that  he  is  yet  alive ;  he  then  alludes  to  the 
misfortunes  that  have  befallen  Troy  since  the  death  of  the  hero. 
The  state  in  which  he  beholds  him  is  not  sufficient  to  remind  him 
of  his  fate  ;  he  asks,  whence  proceed  those  wounds  f  and  yet  tells 
you  that  he  thus  appeared  the  day  on  which  he  was  dragged 
round  the  walls  of  Ilion.  Such  is  the  incoherence  of  the  ideas, 
sentiments,  and  images,  of  a  dream. 

It  is  a  high  gratification  to  us  to  find  among  the  Christian 
poets  something  that  rivals,  and  that  perhaps  surpasses,  this 
dream.  In  poetry,  tragic  effect,  and  religion,  these  two  delinea 
tions  are  equal,  and  Virgil  is  once  more  repeated  in  Racine. 

Athalie,  under  Ihe  portico  of  the  temple  of  Jerusalem,  thus 
relates  her  dream  to  Abner  and  Mathan  : — 

'Twas  in^he  dead  of  night,  when  horror  reigns, 

My  mother  Jezabel  appeared  before  me, 

Richly  attired  as  on  the  day  she  died. 

Her  sorrows  had  not  damped  her  noble  pride  ; 

She  even  still  retained  those  borrowed  charms 

Which,  to  conceal  the  irreparable  ravage 

Of  envious  time,  she  spread  upon  her  cheeks. 

"Tremble,"  said  she,  "0  daughter  worthy  of  me! 

The  Hebrews'  cruel  God  'gainst  thee  prevails  j 

I  grieve  that  into  his  tremendous  hands 

Thou  too  must  fall,  my  daughter !"     As  she  spoke 

These  awful  words,  her  shadow  toward  my  bed 

Appeared  to  stoop;  I  stretched  my  arms  to  meet  her 

But  grasped  in  my  embrace  a  frightful  mass 

Of  bones  and  mangled  flesh  besmeared  with  mire, 

Garments  all  dyed  with  gore,  and  shattered  limbs, 

Which  greedy  dogs  seemed  eagerly  to  fight  for. 

It  would  be  difficult  to  decide,  in  this  place,  between  Virgil 
and  Racine.  Both  dreams  are  alike  drawn  from  the  character 
of  their  respective  religions.  Virgil  is  more  melancholy,  Racine 
more  terrific.  The  latter  would  have  missed  his  object,  and  be 
trayed  an  ignorance  of  the  gloomy  spirit  of  the  Hebrew  doctrines, 
if,  after  the  example  of  the  former,  he  had  placed  the  dream  of 
Athalie  in  a  peaceful  hour.  As  he  is  about  to  perform  much,  so 
also  he  promises  much  in  the  verse — 

'Twas  in  the  dead  of  night,  when  horror  reigns. 

In  Racine  there  is  a  conformity,  and  in  Virgil  a  contrast,  of 
images. 

28* 


330  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

The  scene  announced  by  the  apparition  of  Hector — that  is  to 
«ay,  the  destruction  of  a  great  nation  and  the  foundation  of  the 
Roman  empire — would  be  much  more  magnificent  than  the  fall  of 
a  single  queen,  if  Joas,  rekindling  the  to~ch  of  David,  did  not 
show  us  in  the  distance  the  coming  of  the  Messiah  and  the  re 
formation  of  all  mankind. 

The  two  poets  exhibit  the  same  excellence,  though  we  prefer 
the  passage  in  Racine.  As  Hector  first  appeared  to  tineas,  so 
he  remained  to  the  end ;  but  the  borrowed  pomp  of  Jezabel,  so 
suddenly  contrasted  with  her  gory  and  lacerated  form,  is  a  change 
of  person  which  gives  to  Racine's  verse  a  beauty  not  possessed 
by  that  of  Virgil.  The  mother's  ghost,  also,  bending  over  her 
daughter's  bed,  as  if  to  conceal  itself,  and  then  all  at  once  trans 
formed  into  mangled  bones  and  flesh,  is  one  of  those  frightful 
circumstances  which  are  characteristic  of  the  phantom. 


CHAPTER  XII. 

POETICAL   MACHINERY,  CONTINUED. 

Journeys  of  Homer's  gods — Satan's  expedition  in  quest  of  the 
New  Creation. 

WE  now  come  to  that  part  of  poetic  machinery  which  is  derived 
from  the  journeys  of  supernatural  beings.  This  is  one  of  the  de 
partments  of  the  marvellous  in  which  Homer  has  displayed  the 
greatest  sublimity.  Sometimes  he  tells  you  that  the  car  of  the 
god  flies  like  the  thought  of  a  traveller,  who  calls  to  mind  in  a 
moment  all  the  regions  that  he  has  visited;  at  others  he  says, 
"Far  as  a  man  seated  on  a  rock  on  the  brink  of  ocean  can  see 
around  him,  so  far  the  immortal  coursers  sprang  forward  at  every 
bound." 

But,  whatever  may  be  the  genius  of  Homer  and  the  majesty 
of  his  gods,  his  marvellous  and  all  his  grandeur  are  nevertheless 
eclipsed  by  the  marvellous  of  Christianity. 


SATAN'S   EXPEDITION.  331 


Satan,  having  reached  the  gates  of  hell,  which  are  opened  for 
him  by  sin  and  death,  prepares  to  go  in  quest  of  the  creation.1 

The  gates  wide  open  stood, 

And  like  a  furnace  mouth 

Cast  forth  redounding  smoke  and  ruddy  flame. 

Before  their  eyes  in  sudden  view  appear 

The  secrets  of  the  hoary  deep,  a  dark 

Illimitable  ocean,  without  bound, 

Without  dimension,  where  length,  breadth,  and  height* 

And  time  and  place,  are  lost;  where  eldest  Night 

And  Chaos,  ancestors  of  Nature,  hold 

Eternal  anarchy,  amidst  the  noise 

Of  endless  wars,  and  by  confusion  stand.  .  .  . 

Into  this  wild  abyss  the  wary  fiend 

Stood  on  the  brink  of  hell,  and  looked  a  while, 

Pondering  his  voyage,  for  no  narrow  frith 

He  had  to  cross 

At  last  his  sail-broad  vans 

He  spreads  for  flight,  and,  in  the  surging  smoke 

Uplifted,  spurns  the  ground;  thence  many  a  league, 

As  in  a  cloudy  chair,  ascending  rides 

Audacious ;  but  that  seat  soon  failing,  meets 

A  vast  vacuity ;  all  unawares, 

Fluttering  his  pennons  vain,  plump  down  he  drops 

Ten  thousand  fathom  deep,  and  to  this  hour 

Down  had  been  falling,  had  not,  by  ill  chance, 

The  strong  rebuff  of  some  tumultuous  cloud, 

Instinct  with  fire  and  nitre,  hurried  him 

As  many  miles  aloft;  that  fury  stayed 

Quenched  in  a  boggy  syrtis,  neither  sea, 

Nor  good  dry  land ;  nigh  foundered,  on  he  fares, 

Treading  the  crude  consistence,  half  on  foot, 

Half  flying 

The  fiend 

O'er  bog  or  steep,  through  strait,  rough,  dense,  or  rare, 

With  head,  hands,  wings,  or  feet,  pursues  his  way, 

And  swims,  or  sinks,  or  wades,  or  creeps,  or  flies. 

At  length,  a  universal  hubbub  wild 

Of  stunning  sounds  and  voices  all  confused, 

Borne  through  the  hollow  dark,  assaults  his  ear 

With  loudest  vehemence ;  thither  he  plies, 

Undaunted  to  meet  there  whatever  power 

Or  spirit  of  the  nethermost  abyss 

Might  in  that  noise  reside,  of  whom  to  ask 

Which  way  the  nearest  coast  of  darkness  lies 

>  Paradise  Lost,  book  ii.  v.  888  to  1050;  book  iii.  v.  501  to  544,  with  the 
omksion  of  passages  here  and  there. 


832  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

Bordering  on  light,  when  straight  behold  the  throne 

Of  Chaos,  and  his  dark  pavilion  spread 

Wide  on  the  wasteful  deep;  with  him  enthroned, 

Sat  sable-vested  Night,  eldest  of  things, 

The  consort  of  his  reign ;  and  by  them  stood 

Rumor  and  Chance, 

And  Tumult  and  Confusion  all  embroiled, 
And  Discord  with  a  thousand  various  mouths, 
To  whom  Satan,  turning  boldly,  thus :  Ye  Poweri 
And  Spirits  of  this  nethermost  abyss, 
Chaos,  and  ancient  Night,  I  come  no  spy 
With  purpose  to  explore  or  to  disturb 
The  secrets  of  your  realm,  but  by  constraint 
Wandering  this  darksome  desert,  as  my  way 
Lies  through  your  spacious  empire  up  to  light — 

Direct  my  course. 

Thus  Satan ;  and  him  thus  the  Anarch  old, 

With  faltering  speech  and  visage  incomposed, 

Answered:  I  know  thee,  stranger,  who  thou  art; — 

That  mighty  leading  angel,  who  of  late 

Made  head  against  heaven's  King,  though  overthrowi 

I  upon  my  frontiers  here 

Keep  residence,  ........ 

That  little  which  is  left  so  to  defend, 
Encroached  on  still  through  your  intestine  broils, 
Weakening  the  sceptre  of  old  Night;  first  hell, 
Your  dungeon  stretching  far  and  wide  beneath; 
Now  lately  heaven  and  earth,  another  world, 
Hung  o'er  my  realm,  linked  in  a  golden  chain 
To  that  side  heaven  from  whence  your  legions  felL 

Go  and  speed; 

Havoc  and  spoil  and  ruin  are  my  gain ! 
He  ceased ;  and  Satan  stayed  not  to  reply, 
But,  glad  that  now  his  sea  should  find  a  shore, 
With  fresh  alacrity  and  force  renewed, 
Springs  upward  like  a  pyramid  of  fire 

Into  the  wild  expanse 

But  now  at  last  the  sacred  influence 

Of  light  appears,  and  from  the  walls  of  heaven 

Shoots  far  into  the  bosom  of  dim  night 

A  glimmering  dawn ;  here  nature  first  begins 

Her  farthest  verge,  and  Chaos  to  retire — 

That  Satan  with  less  toil,  and  now  with  ease, 

Wafts  on  the  calmer  wave  by  dubious  light, 

And  like  a  weather-beaten  vessel  holds 

Gladly  the  port, 

Weighs  his  spread  wings,  at  leisure  to  behold 
Far  off  the  empyreal  heaven  extended  wide— 
With  opal  towers  and  battlements  adorned 


THE   CHRISTIAN   HELL.  883 

Of  living  sapphire 

Far  distant  he  descries, 

Ascending,  by  degrees  magnificent, 
Up  to  the  wall  of  heaven,  a  structure  high- 
Direct  against  which  opened  from  beneath 

A  passage  down  to  the  earth. 

Satan  from  hence  now  on  the  lower  stair, 
That  scaled  by  steps  of  gold  to  heaven  gate, 
Looks  down  with  wonder  at  the  sudden  view 
Of  all  this  world  at  once. 

In  the  opinion  of  any  impartial  person,  a  religion  *hich  has 
furnished  such  a  sublime  species  of  the  marvellous,  and  more 
over  inspired  the  idea  of  the  loves  of  Adam  and  Eve,  cannot  be 
an  anti-poetical  religion.  What  is  Juno,  repairing  to  the  limits 
of  the  earth  in  Ethiopia,  to  Satan  speeding  his  course  from  the 
depths  of  Chaos  up  to  the  frontiers  of  nature  ?  The  passages 
which  we  have  omitted  still  heighten  the  effect;  for  they  seem 
to  protract  the  journey  of  the  prince  of  darkness,  and  convey  to 
the  reader  a  vague  conception  of  the  infinite  space  through 
which  he  has  passed. 


CHAPTEK  XIII. 

THE    CHRISTIAN    HELL. 

AMONG  the  many  differences  which  distinguish  the  Christian 
hell  from  the  Tartarus  of  the  ancients,  one  in  particular  is  well 
worthy  of  remark; — that  is,  the  torments  which  the  devils  them 
selves  undergo.  Pluto,  the  Judges,  the  Fates,  the  Furies,  shared 
not  the  tortures  of  the  guilty.  The  pangs  of  our  infernal  spirits 
are  therefore  an  additional  field  for  the  imagination,  and  conse 
quently  a  poetical  advantage  which  our  hell  possesses  over  that 
of  antiquity. 

In  the  Cimmerian  plains  of  the  Odyssey,  the  indistinctness  of 
the  place,  the  darkness,  the  incongruity  of  the  objects,  the  ditch 
where  the  shades  assemble  to  quaff  blood,  give  to  the  picture 
comething  awful,  and  that  perhaps  bears  a  nearer  resemblance 
to  the  Christian  hell  than  the  Taenarus  of  Virgil.  In  the  latter 
may  be  perceived  the  progress  of  the  philosophic  doctrines  of 


334  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


Greece.  The  Fates,  the  Cocytus,  the  Styx,  are  to  be  found  with 
all  their  details  in  the  works  of  Plato.  Here  commences  a  dis 
tribution  of  punishments  and  rewards  unknown  to  Homer.  We 
.have  already  observed1  that  misfortune,  indigence,,  and  weak 
ness,  were,  after  death,  banished  by  the  pagans  to  a  world  as 
painful  as  the  present.  The  religion  of  Jesus  Christ  has  not  thus 
repudiated  the  souls  of  men;  on  the  contrary,  it  teaches  the 
unhappy  that  when  they  are  removed  from  this  world  of  tribula 
tion  they  shall  be  conveyed  to  a  place  of  repose,  and  that,  if 
they  have  thirsted  after  righteousness  in  time,  they  shall  enjoy 
its  rewards  in  eternity.3 

If  philosophy  be  satisfied,  it  will  not  be  difficult  perhaps  to  con 
vince  the  Muses.  We  must  admit  that  no  Christian  poet  has 
done  justice  to  the  subject  of  hell.  Neither  Dante,  nor  Tasso, 
nor  Milton,  is  unexceptionable  in  this  respect.  There  are  some 
excellent  passages,  however,  in  their  descriptions,  which  show 
that  if  all  the  parts  of  the  picture  had  been  retouched  with  equal 
care  they  would  have  produced  a  place  of  torment  as  poetical  as 
those  of  Homer  and  Virgil. 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

PARALLEL   BETWEEN    HELL  AND   TARTARUS. 

Entrance  of  Avernus — Dante's  gate  of  Hell — Dido — Francisca 
d'Arimino — Torments  of  the  damned. 

THE  description  of  the  entrance  of  Avernus  in  the  sixth  book 
of  the  ^Eneid  contains  some  very  finished  composition : — 

Ibant  obscuri  sola  sub  nocte  per  umbram, 
Perque  domos  ditis  vacuas  et  inania  regna. 

Pallentes  habitant  morbi,  tristisque  senectus, 

1  Part  i.  book  vi. 

*  The  pagan  view  respecting  the  infernal  region  was  so  manifestly  unjust 
that  Virgil  himbelf  was  compelled  to  notice  it : — 

....  sortemque  animo  miseratus  iniquam.     JEneid,  b.  vL 


HELL   AND   TARTARUS   COMPARED.  335 

Et  metus,  et  malesuada  fames,  et  turpis  egestas, 
Terribiles  visu  formae ;  letumque,  laborque, 
Turn  consanguineus  leti  sopor,  et  mala  mentis 
Gaudia. 

Every  one  who  can  read  Latin  must  be  struck  with  the  mourn- 
fhl  harmony  of  these  lines.  You  first  hear  the  bellowing  of  the 
cavern  in  which  the  Sibyl  and  ^Eneas  are  walking : — 

Ibant  obscuri  sola,  sub  nocte  per  umbram ; 

then  you  are  all  at  once  ushered  into  desert  spaces,  into  the 
regions  of  vacuity : — 

Perque  domos  ditis  vacuas  et  inania  regna. 

Next  come  the  dull  and  heavy  syllables  which  admirably  repre 
sent  the  deep  sighs  of  hell : — 

Tristisque  senectus,  et  metus— letumque,  laborque,— 

consonances  which  moreover  evince  that  the  ancients  were  no 
strangers  to  the  species  of  beauty  attached  by  us  to  rhyme.  The 
Latins,  as  well  as  the  Greeks,  employed  the  repetition  of  sounds 
in  their  pastoral  pictures  and  sombre  harmonies. 

Dante,  like  ^neas,  at  first  wanders  in  a  wild  forest  which  con 
ceals  the  entrance  to  his  hell.  Nothing  can  be  more  awful  than 
this  solitude.  He  soon  reaches  the  gate,  over  which  he  discovers 
the  well-known  inscription : — 

Per  me  si  va  nella  citta  dolente; 
Per  me  si  va  nell'  eterno  dolore: 
Per  me  si  va  tra  la  perduta  gente. 


Lasciat*  ogni  speranza,  voi  ch'  entrate. 

Here  we  find  precisely  the  same  species  of  beauties  as  in  the 
Latin  poet.  Every  ear  must  be  struck  with  the  monotonous  ca 
dence  of  these  repeated  rhymes,  in  which  the  everlasting  outcry 
of  pain  which  ascends  from  the  depths  of  the  abyss  seems  alter 
nately  to  burst  forth  and  expire.  In  the  thrice  reiterated  per  me 
si  vd  you  may  fancy  the  knell  of  the  dying  Christian.  The 
lasciat'  ogni  speranza  is  comparable  to  the  grandest  trait  in  the 
hell  of  Virgil. 

Milton,  after  the  example  of  the  Mantuan  poet,  has  placed 
Death  at  the  entrance  of  his  hell  (Letum)  as  well  as  Sin,  which 


336  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

is  nothing  else  than  the  mala  mentis  gaudia,  the  guilty  joys  of 
the  heart.     The  former  is  thus  described  by  him : — 

The  other  shape, — 
If  shape  it  might  be  called  that  shape  had  none, — 

Black  it  stood  as  Night, 

Fierce  as  ten  furies,  terrible  as  hell, 

And  shook  a  dreadful  dart.     What  seemed  his  head, 

The  likeness  of  a  kingly  crown  had  on. 

Never  was  phantom  represented  in  a  manner  more  vague  and 
more  terrific.  The  origin  of  Death,  related  by  Sin, — the  manner 
in  which  the  echoes  of  hell  repeat  the  tremendous  name  when  for 
the  first  time  pronounced, — form  altogether  a  species  of  dark 
sublime  unknown  to  antiquity.1 

Advancing  into  the  infernal  regions,  we  go  with  ^Eneas 
into  the  lugentes  campi,  the  plain  of  tears.  He  there  meets  with 
the  unfortunate  Dido.  He  discovers  her  in  the  shade  of  a  wood, 
as  you  perceive,  or  fancy  that  you  perceive,  the  new  moon  rising 
through  the  clouds. 

Qualem  primo  qui  surgere  mense 
Aut  videt  aut  vidisse  putat  per  nubila  lunam. 

The  whole  of  this  passage  displays  exquisite  taste;  but  Dante 
is  perhaps  not  less  pathetic  in  the  description  of  the  plain  of  tears. 
Virgil  has  placed  lovers  among  myrtle  groves  and  solitary  alleys. 
Dante  has  surrounded  his  with  a  lurid  atmosphere  and  tempests, 
which  incessantly  drive  them  to  and  fro.  The  one  has  assigned 
to  love  its  own  reveries  as  a  punishment.  The  other  has  sought 
that  punishment  in  the  image  of  the  excesses  to  which  the  pas 
sion  gives  birth.  Dante  accosts  an  unhappy  couple  in  the  midst 
of  a  whirlwind.  Francisca  d'Arimino,  being  questioned  by  the 
poet,  relates  the  history  of  her  misfortunes  and  of  her  love. 


1  Harris,  in  his  Hermes,  remarks  that  this  passage  derives  great  beauty  from 
the  masculine  gender  which  is  here  given  to  Death.  If  Milton  had  said,  shook 
her  dart,  instead  of  shook  his  dart,  the  sublime  would  be  diminished.  Death  is 
masculine  in  Greek,  (Oavaros,)  and  Racine  has  also  given  it  the  masculine  gen 
der  in  French,  La  mort  est  le  seul  dieu  que  j'osois  implorer.  Voltaire  has  not 
approved  himself  much  as  a  critic  in  finding  fault  with  the  use  of  the  masculine 
for  death  and  of  the  feminine  for  sin,  as,  in  English,  death  may  be  any  of  the 
three  genders,  and  sin  is  properly  made  feminine  by  the  general  rule  which 
applies  this  gender  to  nouns  implying  either  weakness  or  capacity. 


HELL  ASD  TARTARUS  COMPARED.        337 

One  day, 

For  our  delight,  we  read  of  Lancelot, — 
How  him  love  thralled.     Alone  we  were,  and  no 
Suspicion  near  us.     Oft-tiines,  by  that  reading, 
Our  eyes  were  drawn  together,  and  the  hue 
Fled  from  our  altered  cheek.     But  at  one  point 
Alone  we  felL     When  of  that  smile  we  read, — 
The  wished  smile,  so  rapturously  kissed 
By  one  so  deep  in  love, — then  he,  who  ne'er 
From  me  shall  separate,  at  once  my  lips 
All  trembling  kissed.     The  book  and  writer  both 
Were  love's  purveyors.     In  its  leaves  that  day 
We  read  no  more.1 

What  admirable  simplicity  in  this  recital  of  Francisca !  What 
delicacy  of  expression  in  the  concluding  lines!  They  are  not 
surpassed  by  the  language  of  Virgil  in  the  fourth  book  of  the 
JEneid,  where  allusion  is  made  to  the  love  of  Dido : 

Then  first  the  trembling  earth  the  signal  gave, 

And  flashing  fires  enlighten  all  the  cave; 

Hell  from  below,  and  Juno  from  above, 

And  howling  nymphs,  were  conscious  to  their  love.* 

Not  far  from  the  field  of  tears,  tineas  descries  the  field  of  the 
Warriors.  Here  he  meets  with  Deiphobus,  cruelly  mutilated.  In 
teresting  as  his  story  may  be,  the  mere  name  of  Ugolino  reminds 
us  of  a  far  more  exquisite  passage.  That  Voltaire  should  have 
discovered  nothing  but  burlesque  objects  in  the  flames  of  a  Chris 
tian  hell  is  a  circumstance  that  may  be  conceived;  but  we  would 
ask  whether  poetry  at  least  does  not  find  its  advantage  in  the 
scenes  in  which  Count  Ugolino  appears,  and  which  form  the  sub 
ject  of  such  exquisite  verse,  such  tragic  episode? 

When  we  pass  from  all  these  details  to  a  general  view  of  hell 
and  of  Tartarus,  we  find  in  the  latter  the  Titans  blasted  with 
lightning,  Ixion  threatened  with  the  fall  of  a  rock,  the  Danaids 
with  their  tun,  Tantalus  disappointed  by  the  waters,  &c. 

Whether  it  be  that  we  are  familiarized  with  the  idea  of  these  tor 
ments,  or  that  they  have  nothing  in  them  capable  of  producing 
the  terrible  because  they  are  measured  by  the  standard  of  hard 
ships  known  in  life,  so  much  is  certain,  that  they  make  but  little 
impression  on  the  mind.  But  would  you  be  deeply  affected, — 

1  Canto  v.  2  Dryden's  Trang  ation. 

29  W 


338  GENIUS  OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

would  you  know  how  far  the  imagination  of  pan  can  extend,— 
would  you  become  acquainted  with  the  poetry  of  torments  and 
the  hymns  of  flesh  and  blood, — descend  into  the  hell  of  Dante. 
Here  spirits  are  tossed  about  by  the  whirlwinds  of  a  tempest; 
there  burning  sepulchres  enclose  the  followers  of  heresy.  Tyrants 
^re  plunged  into  a  river  of  warm  blood.  Suicides,  who  have  dis 
regarded  the  noble  nature  of  man,  are  sank  toward  that  of  the 
plant,  and  are  transformed  into  stunted  trees  which  grow  in  a 
burning  sand  and  whose  branches  the  harpies  are  incessantly 
breaking  off.  These  spirits  will  not  be  united  to  their  bodies  on 
the  day  of  the  general  resurrection.  They  will  drag  them  into 
the  dreary  forest,  and  there  suspend  them  to  the  boughs  of  the  trees 
to  which  they  are  attached. 

Let  it  not  be  asserted  that  any  Greek  or  Roman  author  could 
have  produced  a  Tartarus  as  awful  as  Dante's  Inferno.  Such  a 
remark,  were  it  even  correct,  would  prove  nothing  decisive  against 
the  poetic  resources  of  the  Christian  religion ;  but  those  who  have 
the  slightest  acquaintance  with  the  genius  of  antiquity  will  ad 
mit  that  the  sombre  coloring  of  Dante  is  not  to  be  found  in  the 
pagan  theology,  and  that  it  belongs  to  the  stern  doctrines  of  cur 
faith. 


CHAPTER  XV. 

PURGATORY. 

THAT  the  doctrine  of  purgatory  opens  to  the  Christian  poet  a 
source  of  the  marvellous  which  was  unknown  to  antiquity  will  be 
readily  admitted.1  Nothing,  perhaps,  is  more  favorable  to  the 
inspiration  of  the  muse  than  this  middle  state  of  expiation  be 
tween  the  region  of  bliss  and  that  of  pain,  suggesting  the  idea  of 
a  confused  mixture  of  happiness  and  of  suffering.  The  grada- 

1  Some  trace  of  this  dogma  is  to  be  found  in  Plato  and  in  the  doctrine  o/ 
Zeno.  (See  Diog.  Laer.)  The  poets  also  appear  to  have  had  some  idea  of  it; 
(JEneid,  b.  vi. ;)  but  these  notions  are  all  vague  and  inconsequent.  (See 
note  T.) 


PURGATORY.  339 

tion  of  the  punishments  inflicted  on  those  souls  that  are  more  or 
less  happy,  more  or  less  brilliant,  according  to  their  degree  of 
proximity  to  an  eternity  of  joy  or  of  wo,  affords  an  impressive 
subject  for  poetic  description.  In  this  respect  it  surpasses  the 
subjects  of  heaven  and  hell,  because  it  possesses  a  future,  whicr 
they  do  not. 

The  river  Lethe  was  a  graceful  appendage  of  the  ancient  Ely 
sium;  but  it  cannot  be  said  that  the  shades  which  came  to  life 
again  on  its  banks  exhibited  the  same  poetical  progress  in  the 
way  to  happiness  that  we  behold  in  the  souls  of  purgatory.  When 
they  left  the  abodes  of  bliss  to  reappear  among  men,  they  passed 
from  a  perfect  to  an  imperfect  state.  They  re-entered  the  ring 
for  the  fight.  They  were  born  again  to  undergo  a  second  death. 
In  short,  they  came  forth  to  see  what  they  had  already  seen  be 
fore.  Whatever  can  be  measured  by  the  human  mind  is  neces 
sarily  circumscribed.  We  may  admit,  indeed,  that  there  was  some 
thing  striking  and  true  in  the  circle  by  which  the  ancients  sym 
bolized  eternity;  but  it  seems  to  us  that  it  fetters  the  imagina 
tion  by  confining  it  always  within  a  dreaded  enclosure.  The 
straight  line  extended  ad  injinitum  would  perhaps  be  more  ex 
pressive,  because  it  would  carry  our  thoughts  into  a  world  of  un 
defined  realities,  and  would  bring  together  three  things  which 
appear  to  exclude  each  other,  —  hope,  mobility,  and  eternity. 

The  apportionment  of  the  punishment  to  the  sin  is  another 
source  of  invention  which  is  found  in  the  purgatorial  state,  and  is 
highly  favorable  to  the  sentimental.  What  ingenuity  might  be 
displayed  in  determining  the  pains  of  a  mother  who  has  been  too 
indulgent  —  of  a  maiden  who  has  been  too  credulous  —  of  a  young 
man  who  has  become  the  victim  of  a  too  ardent  temperament  ! 
If  violent  winds,  raging  fires,  and  icy  cold,  lend  their  influence  to 
the  torments  of  hell,  why  may  not  milder  sufferings  be  derived 
from  the  song  of  the  nightingale,  from  the  fragrance  of  flowers, 
from  the  murmur  of  the  brook,  or  from  the  moral  affections  them 
selves?  Homer  and  Ossian  tell  us  of  the  joy  of  grief, 


Poetry  finds  its  advantage  also  in  that  doctrine  of  purgatory 
which  teaches  us  that  the  prayers  and  other  good  works  of  the 
faithful  may  obtain  the  deliverance  of  souls  from  their  temporal 
pains.  How  admirable  is  this  intercourse  between  the  living  son 


340  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

and  the  deceased  father — between  the  mother  and  df>  nghter — be 
tween  husband  and  wife — between  life  and  death  !  What  affect 
ing  considerations  are  suggested  by  this  tenet  of  religion !  My 
virtue,  insignificant  being  as  I  am,  becomes  the  common  property 
of  Christians;  and,  as  I  participate  in  the  guilt  of  Adam,  so  also 
the  good  that  I  possess  passes  to  the  account  of  others.  Christian 
poets!  the  prayers  of  your  Nisus  will  be  felt,  in  their  happy 
effects,  by  some  Euryalus  beyond  the  grave.  The  rich,  whose 
charity  you  describe,  may  well  share  their  abundance  with  the 
poor;  for  the  pleasure  which  they  take  in  performing  this  simple 
and  grateful  act, will  receive  its  reward  from  the  Almighty  in  the 
release  of  their  parents  from  the  expiatory  flame.  What  a  beau 
tiful  feature  in  our  religion,  to  impel  the  heart  of  man  to  virtue 
by  the  power  of  love,  and  to  make  him  feel  that  the  very  coin 
which  gives  bread  for  the  moment  to  an  indigent  fellow-being, 
entitles  perhaps  some  rescued  soul  to  an  eternal  position  at  the 
table  of  the  Lord ! 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

PARADISE. 

THE  characteristic  which  essentially  distinguishes  Paradise 
from  Elysium  is  this,  that  in  the  former  the  righteous  souls  dwell 
in  heaven  with  God  and  the  angels,  whereas  in  the  latter  the 
happy  shades  are  separated  from  Olympus.  The  philosophic 
system  of  Plato  and  Pythagoras,  which  divides  the  soul  into  two 
essences — the  subtle  form,  which  flies  beneath  the  moon,  and  the 
spirit,  which  ascends  to  the  Divinity, — this  system  is  not  within 
our  province,  which  embraces  the  poetical  theology  alone. 

We  have  shown  in  various  parts  of  this  work  the  difference 
which  exists  between  the  felicity  of  the  elect  and  that  of  the 
manes  in  Elysium.  'Tis  one  thing  to  dance  and  to  feast,  and 
another  to  know  the  nature  of  things,  to  penetrate  into  the  secrets 
of  futurity,  to  contemplate  the  revolutions  of  the  spheres— in  a 
word,  to  be  associated  in  the  omniscience  if  not  in  the  omni- 


PARADISE.  341 


potence,  of  the  Eternal.  It  is,  however,  not  a  little  extraordinary 
that,  with  so  many  advantages,  the  Christian  poets  have  all  been 
unsuccessful  in  their  description  of  heaven.  Some  have  failed 
through  timidity,  as  Tasso  and  Milton;  others  from  fatigue,  as 
Dante;  from  a  philosophical  spirit,  as  Voltaire;  or  from  over 
drawing  the  picture,  as  Klopstock.1  This  subjecf,  therefore, 
must  involve  some  hidden  difficulty,  in  regard  to  which  we  shall 
offer  the  following  conjectures  : — 

It  is  natural  to  man  to  show  his  sympathy  only  in  those  things 
which  bear  some  relation  to  him  and  which  affect  him  in  a  par 
ticular  way,  for  instance,  misfortune.  Heaven,  the  seat  of  un 
bounded  felicity,  is  too  much  above  the  human  condition  for  the 
soul  to  be  touched  by  it;  we  feel  but  little  interest  in  beings  per 
fectly  happy.  On  this  account,  the  poets  have  always  succeeded 
better  in  the  description  of  hell ;  humanity,  at  least,  is  here,  and 
the  torments  of  the  wicked  remind  us  of  the  afflictions  of  life ; 
we  are  affected  by  the  woes  of  others,  like  the  slaves  of  Achilles, 
who,  while  shedding  many  tears  for  the  death  of  Patroclus, 
secretly  deplored  their  own  unhappy  lot. 

To  avoid  the  coldness  resulting  from  the  eternal  and  ever  uni 
form  felicity  of  the  just,  the  poet  might  contrive  to  introduce 
into  heaven  some  kind  of  hope  or  expectation  of  superior  happi 
ness,  or  of  some  grand  unknown  epoch  in  the  revolution  of 
beings  ;a  he  might  remind  the  reader  more  frequently  of  human 
things,  either  by  drawing  comparisons  or  by  giving  affections 
and  even  passions  to  the  blessed.  Scripture  itself  mentions  the 
hopes  and  the  sacred  sorrows  of  heaven.  Why  should  there  not 
be  in  paradise  tears  such  as  saints  might  be  capable  of  shedding  ?3 

1  It  is  singular  enough  that  Chapelain,  who  has  produced  choirs  of  martyrs, 
virgins,  and  apostles,  has  alone  represented  the  Christian  paradise  in  its  true 
light. 

2  The  essential  happiness  of  the  blessed  in  heaven,  viz.,  that  which  consists 
in  the  intuitive  vision  of  God,  cannot  be  increased  either  before  or  after  the  re 
surrection  ;  but  their  accidental  happiness,  or  that  which  may  be  derived  from 
creatures,  is  susceptible  of  augmentation ;  for  instance,  when  they  witness  the 
conversion  of  sinners,  or  behold  new  saints,  especially  their  own  relatives  or 
friends,  added  to  the  number  of  the  elect.     Such  events  cannot  fail  to  heighten 
their  joy,  on  account  of  the  love  which  they  have  for  God  and  for  their  neigh- 

.bor.  In  this  sense  only  can  there  be  any  hope  in  heaven.  (See  Witasse, 
de  Deo.,  quaest.  xi.  sect,  xii.)  T. 

3  Milton  has  seized  this  idea  when  he  represents  the  angels  dismayed  at  the 

29* 


342  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


By  these  various  means  he  would  produce  harmonies  between  oui 
feeble  nature  and  a  more  sublime  constitution,  between  our  short 
lived  existence  and  eternal  things ;  we  should  be  less  disposed  to 
consider  as  an  agreeable  fiction  a  happiness  which,  like  our  own, 
would  be  mingled  with  vicissitudes  and  tears. 

From  alMhese  considerations  on  the  employment  of  the  Chris 
tian  marvellous  in  poetry,  we  may  at  least  doubt  whether  the 
marvellous  of  Paganism  possesses  so  great  an  advantage  over  it 
as  has  generally  been  supposed.  Milton,  with  all  his  faults,  is 
everlastingly  opposed  to  Homer,  with  all  his  beauties.  But  sup 
pose  for  a  moment  that  the  bard  of  Eden  had  been  born  in 
France,  that  he  had  flourished  during  the  age  of  Louis  XIV., 
and  that  with  the  native  grandeur  of  his  genius  he  had  combined 
the  taste  of  Racine  and  Boileau ;  we  ask,  what  in  this  case  the 
Paradise  Lost  would  have  been,  and  whether  the  marvellous  of 
that  poem  would  not  have  equalled  the  marvellous  of  the  Iliad 
and  Odyssey?  If  we  formed  our  judgment  of  mythology  from 
the  Pharsalia,  or  even  from  the  ^Eneid,  would  we  have  that 
brilliant  idea  of  it  which  is  conveyed  by  the  father  of  the  graces, 
the  inventor  of  the  cestus  of  Venus  ?  When  we  possess  a  work 
on  a  Christian  subject  as  perfect  in  its  kind  as  the  performances 
of  Homer,  we  will  then  have  a  fair  opportunity  of  deciding  be 
tween  the  marvellous  of  fable  and  the  marvellous  of  our  OWD 
religion ;  and  till  then  we  shall  take  the  liberty  of  doubting  the 
truth  of  that  precept  of  Boileau  : — 

The  awful  mysteries  of  the  Christian's  faith 

Admit  not  of  the  lighter  ornaments. 

We  might,  indeed,  have  abstained  from  bringing  Christianity 
into  the  lists  against  mythology,  on  the  single  question  concerning 
the  marvellous.  If  we  have  entered  into  this  subject,  it  is  only 
to  exhibit  the  superabundant  resources  of  our  cause.  We  might 
cut  short  the  question  in  a  simple  and  decisive  manner;  for  were 
it  as  certain  as  it  is  doubtful  that  Christianity  is  incapable  of 
furnishing  as  rich  a  marvellous  as  that  of  fable,  still  it  is  true 
that  it  possesses  a  certain  poetry  of  the  soul,  an  imag'nation  of 
the  heart,  of  which  no  trace  is  to  be  found  in  mythology;  and 
the  impressive  beauties  which  emanate  from  this  source  would 

intelligence  of  the  fall  of  man ;  and  Fenelon  in  like  manner  assigns  emotions 
of  pity  to  the  happy  shades. 


PARADISE.  343 


alone  compensate  the  loss  of  the  ingenious  fictions  oi  antiquity. 
In  the  pictures  of  paganism,  every  thing  has  a  physical  character, 
every  thing  is  external  and  adapted  only  to  the  eye ;  in  the  de 
lineations  of  the  Christian  religion,  all  is  sentiment  and  mind,  all 
is  internal,  all  is  created  for  the  soul.  What  food  for  thought ! 
what  depth  of  meditation  !  There  is  more  sweetness  in  one  of 
those  divine  tears  which  Christianity  draws  from  the  eyes  of  the 
believer  than  in  all  the  smiling  errors  of  mythology.  A  poet 
has  only  to  contemplate  the  Mother  of  Sorrows,  or  some  obscure 
saint,  the  patron  of  the  blind  and  the  orphan,  to  compose  a  more 
affecting  work  than  with  all  the  gods  of  the  Pantheon.  Is  there 
not  poetry  here?  Do  we  not  find  here  also  the  marvellous?  But, 
if  you  would  have  a  marvellous  still  more  sublime,  contemplate 
the  life,  actions,  and  sufferings  of  the  Redeemer,  and  recollect 
that  your  God  bore  the  appellation  of  the  Son  of  man!  Yes, 
we  venture  to  predict  that  a  time  will  come  when  men  will  be 
lost  in  astonishment  to  think  how  they  could  have  overlooked  the 
admirable  beauties  which  exist  in  the  mere  names,  in  the  mere 
expressions,  of  Christianity,  and  will  be  scarcely  able  to  conceive 
how  it  was  possible  to  aim  the  shafts  of  ridicule  at  this  religion 
of  reason  and  of  misfortune.1 

Here  we  conclude  the  survey  of  the  direct  relations  between 
Christianity  and  the  Muses,  having  considered  it  in  its  relations 
to  men  and  in  its  relations  to  supernatural  beings.  We  shall 
close  our  remarks  on  this  subject  with  a  general  view  of  the 
Bible,  the  source  whence  Milton,  Dante,  Tasso,  and  Racine,  de 
rived  a  part  of  their  wonderful  imagery,  as  the  great  poets  of 
antiquity  had  borrowed  their  grandest  traits  from  the  works  of 
Homer. 

i  The  religion  of  reason  or  truth,  established  by  the  Son  of  God,  most,  by  ita 
very  nature,  be  always  a  butt  of  opposition  for  e-very  variety  of  religious  error, 
and  consequently  expose  its  professors  to  obloquy  and  persecution.  It  is  there 
fore  a  religion  of  misfortune  or  suffering,  as  well  as  of  reason  or  truth.  Our 
Saviour  himself  announced  this  external  characteristic  of  his  church,  and  it  is 
a  source  of  immense  consolation  to  its  faithful  but  persecuted  members  of  the 
present  day  to  recall  those  words,  "  You  shall  be  hated  by  all  men  for  my 
name's  sake."  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  a  melancholy  evidence  of  the  strange 
i>lin<lness  that  seizes  upon  the  mind,  that  there  are  men  who  boast  of  their 
Christianity,  and  yet,  despite  the  positive  declarations  of  Christ,  do  not  recognise 
in  the  storm  of  opposition  continually  raging  against  the  Church  one  of  the 
most  striking  characteristics  of  its  truth.  (See  St.  Matt,  x.)  T.  » 


BOOK    V. 

THE    BIBLE    AND    HOMER. 
CHAPTER   I. 

OP   THE    SCRIPTURES    AND    THEIR   EXCELLENCE. 

How  extraordinary  that  work  which  begins  with  Genesis  and 
ends  with  the  Apocalypse  !  which  opens  in  the  most  perspicuous 
style,  and  concludes  in  the  most  figurative  language !  May  we 
not  justly  assert  that  in  the  books  of  Moses  all  is  grand  and 
simple,  like  that  creation  of  the  world  and  that  innocence  of 
primitive  mortals  which  he  describes,  and  that  all  is  terrible 
and  supernatural  in  the  last  of  the  prophets,  like  that  corrupt 
society  and  that  consummation  of  ages  which  he  has  represented  ? 

The  productions  most  foreign  to  our  manners,  the  sacred  books 
of  infidel  nations,  the  Zendavesta  of  the  Parsees,  the  Vidam  of 
the  Brahmins,  the  Goran  of  the  Turks,  the  Edda  of  the  Scandi 
navians,  the  maxims  of  Confucius,  the  Sanscrit  poems,  excite  in 
us  no  surprise.  We  find  in  all  these  works  the  ordinary  chain 
of  human  ideas ;  they  have  all  some  resemblance  to  each  other 
both  in  tone  and  idea.  The  Bible  alone  is  like  none  of  them ;  it 
is  a  monument  detached  from  all  the  others.  Explain  it  to  a 
Tartar,  to  a  Caffre,  to  an  American  savage j  put  it  into  the  hands 
of  a  bonze  or  a  dervise ;  they  will  be  all  equally  astonished  by  it 
— a  fact  which  borders  on  the  miraculous.  Twenty  authors, 
living  at  periods  very  distant  from  one  another,  composed  the 
sacred  books ;  and,  though  they  are  written  in  twenty  different 
styles,  yet  these  styles,  equally  inimitable,  are  not  to  be  met  with 
in  any  other  performance.  The  New  Testament,  so  different  in 
its  spirit  from  the  Old,  nevertheless  partakes  with  the  latter  of 
this  astonishing  originality. 

But  this  is  not  the  only  extraordinary  thing  which  men  unani 
mously  discover  in  the  Scriptures.  Those  who  do  not  believe 

344 


STYLES   OF   SCRIPTURE.  345 

in  the  authenticity  of  the  Bible  nevertheless  believe,  in  spite  of 
themselves,  that  there  is  something  more  than  common  in  this 
same  Bible.  Deists  and  atheists,  great  and  little,  all  attracted 
by  some  hidden  magnet,  are  incessantly  referring  to  that  work, 
which  is  admired  by  the  one  and  reviled  by  the  others.  There 
is  not  a  situation  in  life  for  which  we  may  not  find  in  the  Bible  a 
text  apparently  dictated  with  an  express  reference  to  it.  It  would 
be  a  difficult  task  to  persuade  us  that  all  possible  contingencies, 
both  prosperous  and  adverse,  had  been  foreseen,  with  all  theii 
consequences,  in  a  book  penned  by  the  hands  of  men.  Now  it  is* 
certain  that  we  find  in  the  Scriptures — 

The  origin  of  the  world  and  the  prediction  of  its  end  : 

The  groundwork  of  all  the  human  sciences : 

Political  precepts,  from  the  patriarchal  government  to  despot 
ism ;  from  the  pastoral  ages  to  the  ages  of  corruption : 

The  moral  precepts,  applicable  in  prosperity  and  adversity,  and 
to  the  most  elevated  as  well  as  the  most  humble  ranks  of  life : 

Finally,  all  sorts  of  styles,  which,  forming  an  inimitable  work 
of  many  different  parts,  have,  nevertheless,  no  resemblance  to 
the  styles  of  men. 


CHAPTER  n. 

OF   THE   THREE    PRINCIPAL    STYLES   OF   SCRIPTURE. 

AMONG  these  divine  styles,  three  are  particularly  remarkable : — 

1.  The  historic  style,  as  that  of  Genesis,  Deuteronomy,  Job,  &c. 

2.  Sacred  poetry,  as  it  exists  in  the  Psalms,  in  the  Prophets, 
in  the  moral  treatises,  &c. 

3.  The  evangelical  or  gospel  style 

The  first  of  these  three  styles  has  an  indescribable  charm, 
sometimes  imitating  the  narrative  of  the  epic,  as  in  the  history 
of  Joseph,  at  others  bursting  into  lyric  numbers,  as  after  the 
passage  of  the  Red  Sea ;  here  sighing  forth  the  elegies  of  the 
holy  Arab,  there  with  Ruth  singing  affecting  pastorals.  That 
chosen  people,  whose  every  step  is  marked  with  miracles, — that 
people,  for  whom  the  sun  stands  still,  the  rock  pours  forth  waters, 


346  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

and  the  heavens  shower  down  manna, — could  not  have  any  ordinary 
annals.  All  known  forms  are  changed  in  regard  to  them  :  their 
revolutions  are  alternately  related  with  the  trumpet,  the  lyre,  and 
the  pastoral  pipe ;  and  the  style  of  their  history  is  itself  a  con 
tinual  miracle,  that  attests  the  truth  of  the  miracles  the  memory 
of  which  it  perpetuates. 

Our  astonishment  is  marvellously  excited  from  one  end  of  the 
Bible  to  the  other.  What  can  be  compared  to  the  opening  of 
Genesis  ?  That  simplicity  of  language,  which  is  in  an  inverse 
ratio  to  the  magnificence  of  the  objects,  appears  to  us  the  utmost 
effort  of  genius. 

"  In  the  beginning  God  created  heaven  and  earth. 

"And  the  earth  was  void  and  empty,  and  darkness  was  upon 
the  face  of  the  deep;  and  the  spirit  of  God  moved  over  the 
waters. 

"And  God  said,  Be  light  made,  and  there  was  light. 

"And  God  saw  the  light  that  it  was  good,  and  he  divided  the 
light  from  the  darkness." 

The  beauty  of  this  style  cannot  be  described ;  and,  if  it  were 
criticized,  we  should  scarcely  know  how  to  answer.  We  shall 
merely  observe  that  God,  seeing  the  light,  and,  like  a  man  satisfied 
with  his  work,  congratulating  himself  and  finding  it  good,  is  one 
of  those  traits  which  are  not  in  the  order  of  human  things ;  it 
does  not  come  naturally  to  the  mind.  Homer  and  Plato,  who 
speak  with  so  much  sublimity  of  the  gods,  have  nothing  com 
parable  to  this  majestic  simplicity.  God  stoops  to  the  language 
of  men,  to  reduce  his  wonders  to  the  level  of  their  comprehen 
sion  ;  but  he  still  is  God. 

When  we  reflect  that  Moses  is  the  most  ancient  historian  in 
the  world,  and  that  he  has  mingled  no  fabulous  story  with  his 
narrative ;  when  we  consider  him  as  the  deliverer  of  a  great  peo 
ple,  as  the  author  of  one  of  the  most  excellent  legislative  codes 
that  we  know  of,  and  as  the  most  sublime  writer  that  ever  ex 
isted  ;  when  we  behold  him  floating  in  his  cradle  upon  the  Nile, 
afterward  concealing  himself  for  many  years  in  the  deserts,  then 
returning  to  open  a  passage  through  the  sea,  to  produce  streams 
of  water  from  the  rock,  to  converse  with  God  in  a  cloud,  and 
finally  to  disappear  on  the  summit  of  a  mountain,  we  cannot  for 
bear  feeling  the  highest  astonishment.  But  when,  with  a  refer- 


STYLES   OF   SCRIPTURE.  34V 

ence  to  Christianity,  we  come  to  reflect  that  the  history  of  the 
Israelites  is  not  only  the  real  history  of  ancient  days,  but  likewise 
the  type  of  modern  times ;  that  each  fact  is  of  a  twofold  nature, 
containing  within  itself  an  historic  truth  and  a  mystery;  that  the 
Jewish  people  is  a  symbolical  epitome  of  the  human  race,  repre 
senting  in  its  adventures  all  that  has  happened  and  all  that  evei 
will  happen  in  the  world ;  that  Jerusalem  must  always  be  taken 
for  another  city,  Sion  for  another  mountain,  the  Land  of  Promise 
for  another  region,  and  the  call  of  Abraham  for  another  vocation; 
when  it  is  considered  that  the  moral  man  is  likewise  disguised 
under  the  j>hy  steal  man  in  this  history;  that  the  fall  of  Adam, 
the  blood  of  Abel,  the  violated  nakedness  of  Noah,  and  the 
malediction  pronounced  by  that  father  against  a  son,  are  still 
manifested  in  the  pains  of  parturition,  in  the  misery  and  pride 
of  man,  in  the  oceans  of  blood  which  since  the  first  fratricide 
have  inundated  the  globe,  and  in  the  oppressed  races  descended 
from  Cham,  who  inhabit  one  of  the  fairest  portions  of  the  earth;1 
lastly,  when  we  behold  the  Son  promised  to  David  appearing  at 
the  appointed  time  to  restore  genuine  morality  and  the  true  reli 
gion,  to  unite  all  the  nations  of  the  earth,  and  to  substitute  the 
sacrifice  of  the  internal  man  for  blood-stained  holocausts,  we  are 
at  a  loss  for  words,  and  are  ready  to  exclaim,  with  the  prophet, 
"God  is  our  king  before  ages  !" 

In  Job  the  historic  style  of  the  Bible  changes,  as  we  have  ob 
served,  into  elegy.  No  writer — not  even  Jeremias,  he  alone  whose 
lamentations,  according  to  Bossuet,  come  up  to  his  feelings — has 
carried  the  sadness  of  the  soul  to  such  a  pitch  as  the  holy  Arab. 
It  is  true  that  the  imagery,  borrowed  from  a  southern  clime,  from 
the  sands  of  the  desert,  the  solitary  palm-tree,  the  sterile  moun 
tain,  is  in  singular  unison  with  the  language  and  sentiment  of  an 
afflicted  soul  ;  but  in  the  melancholy  of  Job  there  is  something 
supernatural.  The  individual  man,  however  wretched,  cannot 
draw  forth  such  sighs  from  his  soul.  Job  is  the  emblem  of  suf- 
f>  rim/  humanity;  and  the  inspired  writer  has  found  lamentations 
sufficient  to  express  all  the  afflictions  incident  to  the  whole  human 
race.  As,  moreover,  in  Scripture  every  thing  has  a  final  refer 
ence  to  the  new  covenant,  we  are  authorized  in  believing  that  the 

1  The  negroes. 


o±b  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

elegies  of  Job  were  composed  also  for  the  days  of  mourning  of 
the  Church  of  Jesus  Christ.  Thus  God  inspired  his  prophets  with 
funeral  hymns  worthy  of  departed  Christians,  two  thousand  years 
before  these  sacred  martyrs  had  conquered  life  eternal. 

"  Let  the  day  perish  wherein  I  was  born,  and  the  night  in 
which  it  was  said,  A  man-child  is  conceived."1 

Extraordinary  kind  of  lamentation  !  Such  expressions  are  to 
be  met  with  only  in  the  Scripture. 

"  For  now  I  should  have  been  asleep  and  still,  and  should  have 
rest  in  my  sleep." 

This  expression,  should  have  rest  in  MY  sleep,  is  particularly 
striking.  Omit  the  word  my,  and  the  whole  beauty  of  it  is  de 
stroyed.  Sleep  YOUR  sleep,  ye  opulent  of  the  earth,  says  Bossuet, 
and  remain  in  YOUR  dust.2 

"  Why  is  light  given  to  him  that  is  in  misery,  and  life  to  them 
that  are  in  bitterness  of  soul  ?"s 

Never  did  an  exclamation  of  deeper  anguish  burst  from  the 
recesses  of  a  human  bosom. 

"  Man  born  of  a  woman,  living  for  a  short  time,  is  filled  with 
many  miseries/'4 

The  circumstance — born  of  a  woman — is  an  impressive  redund 
ance  ;  we  behold  all  the  infirmities  of  man  in  the  infirmity  of  his 
mother.  The  most  elaborate  style  would  not  express  the  vanity 
of  life  with  such  force  as  those  few  words — u  living  for  a  short 
time,  is  filled  with  many  miseries." 

Every  reader  is  acquainted  with  that  exquisite  passage  in 
which  God  deigns  to  justify  his  power  to  Job  by  confounding  the 
reason  of  man  ]  we  shall  therefore  say  nothing  concerning  it  in 
this  place. 

The  third  species  of  historical  style  that  we  find  in  the  Bible 
is  the  bucolic;  but  of  this  we  shall  have  occasion  to  speak  at 
some  length  in  the  two  following  chapters. 

As  to  the  second  general  style  of  the  Holy  Scriptures,  namely, 
sacred  poetry,  a  great  number  of  excellent  critics  having  exerted 
their  abilities  on  this  subject;  it  would  be  superfluous  for  us  to  go 
over  the  grou  id  again.  Who  is  unacquainted  with  the  choruses  of 


1  Job  iii.  3.  2  Funer.  Orat.  for  the  Chancellor  Le  Tellier. 

*  Job  iii.  20.  4  Job  xiv.  8. 


STYLES    OF   SCRIPTURE.  349 

Esther  and  Athalie  ?  Who  has  not  read  the  odes  of  Rousseau 
and  of  Malherbe  ?  Dr.  Lowth's  Essay  is  in  the  hands  of  every 
scholar,1  and  La  Harpe  has  left  us  an  excellent  prose  translation 
of  the  Psalmist. 

The  third  and  last  style  of  the  sacred  volume  is  that  of  the 
New  Testament.  Here  the  sublimity  of  the  prophets  is  softened 
into  a  tenderness  not  less  sublime  ;  here  love  itself  speaks ;  here 
the  Word  is  really  made  flesh.  What  beauty!  What  simplicity ! 

Each  evangelist  has  a  distinct  character,  except  St.  Mark, 
whose  gospel  seems  to  be  only  an  abridgment  of  St.  Matthew's. 
St.  Mark,  however,  was  a  disciple  of  St.  Peter,  and  several  critics 
are  of  opinion  that  he  wrote  under  the  dictation  of  the  prince  of 
the  apostles.  It  is  worthy  of  remark  that  he  has  recorded  the 
fall  of  his  master.  That  Jesus  Christ  should  have  chosen  for 
the  head  of  his  church  the  very  one  among  his  disciples  who 
had  denied  him  appears  to  us  a  sublime  and  affecting  mystery. 
The  whole  spirit  of  Christianity  is  unfolded  in  this  circumstance. 
St.  Peter  is  the  Adam  of  the  new  law;  the  guilty  and  penitent 
father  of  the  new  Israelites.  1 1  is  fall  teaches  us,  moreover,  that 
the  Christian  religion  is  a  religion  of  mercy,  and  that  Jesus 
Christ  has  established  his  law  among  men  subject  to  error  less 
for  the  flowers  of  innocence  than  for  the  fruits  of  repentance. 

The  Gospel  of  St.  Matthew  is  particularly  precious  for  its 
moral  precepts.  It  contains  a  greater  number  of  those  pathetic 
lessons  which  flowed  so  abundantly  from  the  heart  of  Jesus  than 
any  other  gospel. 

The  narrative  of  St.  John  has  something  sweeter  and  more 
tender.  In  him  we  really  behold  the  disciple  whom  Jesus  loved; 
the  disciple  whom  he  wished  to  have  with  him  in  the  garden  of 
Olives  during  his  agony.  Sublime  distinction  !  for  it  is  only  the 

1  The  deep  and  various  learning  of  Bishop  Lowth,  and  hia  elegant  and  re 
fined  taste,  give  him  the  strongest  claims  to  the  praise  here  attributed  to  his 
work  on  the  sacred  poetry  of  the  Hebrews. 

''What,"  said  he,  "is  there  in  the  whole  compass  of  poetry,  or  what  can  the 
human  mind  conceive  more  grand,  more  noble,  or  more  animated, — what  is  there 
more  beautiful  or  interesting, — than  the  sacred  writings  of  the  Hebrew  prophets  ? 
They  equal  the  almost  inexpressible  greatness  of  the  subjects  by  the  splendor 
of  their  diction  and  the  majesty  of  their  poetry;  and,  as  some  of  them  are  of 
higher  antiquity  than  even  the  Fables  of  the  Greeks,  so  they  excel  the  Greek 
compositions  as  much  in  sublimity  as  n  age." — Lowth'n  Preelections.  S. 
30 


350  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


friend  of  our  soul  that  we  deem  worthy  of  entering  into  the 
secret  of  our  grief.  John  was  also  the  only  apostle  who  accom 
panied  the  Son  of  Man  to  Calvary.  It  was  there  that  the  Saviour 
confided  to  him  his  mother.  "Woman,  behold  thy  son  I"  after 
that,  he  saith  to  the  disciple,  "  Behold  thy  mother  I"  Heavenly 
words,  full  of  love  and  confidence  !  The  beloved  disciple  had 
received  an  indelible  impression  of  his  Master  from  having 
reposed  on  his  bosom  j  hence,  he  was  the  first  to  recognise  him 
after  his  resurrection.  The  heart  of  John  could  not  mistake  the 
features  of  his  divine  friend;  his  faith  was  the  offspring  of  his 
charity.  The  whole  Gospel  of  St.  John  is  characterized  by  the 
spirit  of  that  maxim  which  he  repeated  so  continually  in  his  old 
age.  Full  of  days  and  good  works,  and  no  longer  able  to  dis 
course  at  length  to  the  people  whom  he  had  brought  forth  in 
Christ,  he  contented  himself  with  saying,  "My  little  children, 
love  one  another." 

St.  Jerome  informs  us  that  St.  Luke  belonged  to  the  medical 
profession,  (which  was  so  noble  and  excellent  in  ancient  times,) 
and  that  his  gospel  is  a  medicine  for  the  soul.  The  language  of 
this  evangelist  is  pure  and  elevated,  and  indicates  him  to  have 
been  a  man  of  letters  and  acquainted  with  the  affairs  and  the 
men  of  his  time.  He  commences  his  narrative  after  the  manner 
of  the  ancient  historians,  and  you  imagine  yourself  reading  an 
introduction  of  Herodotus: — 

"Forasmuch  as  many  have  taken  in  hand  to  set  forth  in 
order  a  narrative  of  the  things  that  have  been  accomplished 
among  us;  according  as  they  have  delivered  them  unto  us,  who 
from  the  beginning  were  eye-witnesses  and  ministers  of  the  word; 
it  seemed  good  to  me  also,  having  diligently  attained  to  all  things 
from  the  beginning,  to  write  to  thee  in  order,  most  excellent 
Theophilus." 

Such  is  the  ignorance  of  our  times  that  many  who  pretend  to 
a  liberal  education  will  be  surprised  to  learn  that  St.  Luke  is  a 
writer  of  high  rank,  and  that  his  gospel  breathes  the  genius  of 
Grseco-Hebrseic  antiquity.  What  narrative  is  more  beautiful 
than  the  whole  passage  which  precedes  the  birth  of  Christ  ? 

"  There  was  in  the  days  of  Herod  the  king  of  Judea,  a  certain 
priest  named  Zachary,  of  the  course  of  Abia,  and  his  wife  was  of 
the  daughters  of  Aaron,  and  her  name  was  Elizabeth.  And  they 


STALES   OF   SCRIPTURE.  351 

were  both  just  before  God;  ....  and  they  had  nc  son,  for  that 
Elizabeth  was  barren,  and  they  both  were  well  advanced  in  years." 

Zachary  is  offering  up  sacrifice  in  the  temple,  when  an  angel 
appears  to  him  "  standing  on  the  right  side  of  the  altar  of 
incense."  He  announces  that  he  shall  have  a  son,  and  that  this 
son  shall  be  called  John,  who  will  be  the  precursor  of  the 
Messiah  and  will  turn  "the  hearts  of  the  fathers  unto  the  chil 
dren."  The  same  angel  then  repairs  to  the  humble  dwelling  of 
an  Israelitic  virgin,  and  says  to  her,  "Hail,  full  of  grace,  the 
Lord  is  with  thee!"  Mary  hastens  to  the  mountains  of  Judea, 
where  she  meets  Elizabeth,  and  the  infant  in  the  womb  of  the 
latter  leaps  with  joy  at  the  salutation  of  her  who  was  to  bring 
furth  the  Saviour  of  the  world.  Filled  all  at  once  with  the  Holy 
Ghost,  Elizabeth  exclaims,  "Blessed  art  thou  among  women,  and 
blessed  is  the  fruit  of  thy  womb !  And  whence  is  this  to  rne, 
that  the  mother  of  my  Lord  should  coiue  to  me  ?  For  behold,  as 
soon  as  the  voice  of  thy  salutation  sounded  in  my  ears,  the  infant 
in  niy  womb  leaped  for  joy."  Then  Mary  entones  that  magnifi 
cent  canticle,  "My  soul  doth  magnify  the  Lord,"  &c.  Here 
follows  the  history  of  the  Redeemer's  birth  and  of  the  shepherds 
who  come  to  adore  him.  A  numerous  multitude  of  the  celestial 
army  are  heard  singing,  •"  Glory  to  God  in  the  highest,  and  on 
earth  peace  to  men  of  good  will:"  a  hymn  worthy  of  the  angels, 
and  an  abridgment,  as  it  were,  of  the  Christian  religion. 

We  know  something  of  antiquity,  and  we  venture  to  assert 
that  a  long  search  would  be  necessary  among  the  brightest  geniuses 
of  Rome  and  Greece,before  any  thing  could  be  found  to  rival  the 
simplicity  and  grandeur  of  the  passage  which  we  have  just  quoted 

Whoever  reads  the  gospel  with  attention  will  discover  some 
thing  admirable  at  every  moment,which  at  first  might  escape  his 
notice  on  account  of  its  extreme  simplicity.  St.  Luke,  for  instance, 
in  recording  the  genealogy  of  Christ,  ascends  to  the  very  origin 
of  the  world.  Having  reached  the  primitive  generations,  and 
continuing  the  names  of  the  different  races,  he  says:  "Cainan, 
who  was  of  Henos,  who  was  of  Seth,  who  was  of  Adam,  who  was 
of  GOD.''  The  simple  expression,  who  was  of  God,  without  com 
ment  or  reflection,  to  relate  the  creation,  the  origin,  the  nature, 
the  end.  and  the  mystery,  of  man,  appears  to  us  an  illustration  of 
the  grandest  sublimity. 


352  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


The  religion  of  the  Son  of  Mary  is  the  essence,  as  it  were,  of  all 
religions,  or  that  which  is  most  celestial  in  them  all.  The  cha 
racter  of  the  evangelical  style  may  be  delineated  in  a  few  words : 
it  is  a  tone  of  parental  authority  mingled  with  a  certain  fraternal 
indulgence,  with  I  know  not  what  commiseration  of  a  God  who, 
to  redeem  us,  deigned  to  become  the  son  and  the  brother  of  men. 

To  conclude :  the  more  we  read  the  epistles  of  the  apostles,  and 
especially  those  of  St.  Paul,  the  more  we  are  astonished;  we  look 
in  wonder  upon  the  man  who,  in  a  kind  of  common  exhortation, 
familiarly  introduces  the  most  sublime  thoughts,  penetrates  into 
the  deepest  recesses  of  the  human  heart,  explains  the  nature  of 
the  Supreme  Being,  and  predicts  future  events.1 


CHAPTER  III. 

PARALLEL   BETWEEN   THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER. 
Terms  of  Comparison. 

So  much  has  been  written  on  the  Bible, — it  has  been  so  re 
peatedly  commented  upon, — that  the  only  method  perhaps  now 
left  to  produce  a  conviction  of  its  beauties  is  to  compare  it  with 
the  works  of  Homer.  Consecrated  by  ages,  these  poems  have 
become  invested  with  a  venerable  character  which  justifies  the 
parallel  and  removes  all  idea  of  profanation.  If  Jacob  and  Nestor 
are  not  of  the  same  family,  both  at  least  belong  to  the  early  ages 
of  the  world,  and  you  feel  that  it  is  but  a  step  from  the  palace 
of  Pylos  to  the  tents  of  Israel. 

In  what  respect  the  Bible  is  more  beautiful  than  Homer — what 
resemblances  and  what  differences  exist  between  it  and  the  pro 
ductions  of  that  poet, — such  are  the  subjects  which  we  purpose  to 
examine  in  these  chapters.  Let  us  contemplate  those  two  mag 
nificent  monuments,  which  stand  like  solitary  columns  at  the 
entrance  to  the  temple  of  genius,  and  form  its  simple,  its  majestic 
peristyle. 

1  See  note  U. 


THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  353 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  a  curious  spectacle  to  behold  the  com 
petition  of  the  two  most  ancient  languages  in  the  world,  the  lan 
guages  in  which  Moses  and  Lycurgus  published  their  laws  and 
David  and  Pindar  chanted  their  hymns.  The  Hebrew,  concise, 
energetic,  with  scarcely  any  inflection  in  its  verbs,  expressing 
twenty  shades  of  a  thought  by  the  mere  apposition  of  a  letter, 
proclaims  the  idiom  of  a  people  who,  by  a  remarkable  combina 
tion,  unite  primitive  simplicity  with  a  profound  knowledge  of 
mankind. 

The  Greek  displays,  in  its  intricate  conjugations,  in  its  endless 
inflections,  in  its  diffuse  eloquence,  a  nation  of  an  imitative  and 
social  genius, — a  nation  elegant  and  vain,  fond  of  melody  and 
prodigal  of  words. 

Would  the  Hebrew  compose  a  verb,  he  needs  but  know  the 
three  radical  letters  which  form  the  third  person  singular  of  the 
preterite  tense.  He  then  has  at  once  all  the  tenses  and  moods, 
by  introducing  certain  servile  letters  before,  after,  or  between, 
those  three  radical  letters. 

The  Greek  meets  with  much  more  embarrassment.  He  is 
obliged  to  consider  the  characteristic,  the  termination,  the  aug 
ment,  and  the  pcnultima,  of  certain  persons  in  the  tenses  of  tho 
verbs;  modifications  the  more  difficult  to  be  discovered,  as  the 
characteristic  is  lost,  transposed,  or  takes  up  an  unknown  let 
ter,  according  to  the  very  letter  before  which  it  happens  to  be 
placed. 

These  two  conjugations,  Hebrew  and  Greek,  the  one  so  simple 
and  so  short,  the  other  so  compounded  and  .so  prolix,  seem  to 
bear  the  stamp  of  the  genius  and  manners  of  the  people  by  whom 
they  were  respectively  formed.  The  first  retraces  the  concise  lan 
guage  of  the  Patriarch  who  goes  alone  to  visit  his  neighbor  at  the 
well  of  the  palm-tree;  the  latter  reminds  you  of  the  prolix  elo 
quence  of  the  Pelasgian  on  presenting  himself  at  the  door  of 
his  host. 

If  you  take  at  random  any  Greek  or  Hebrew  substantive,  you 
will  be  still  better  able  to  discover  the  genius  of  the  two  lan 
guages.  Nesher,  in  Hebrew,  signifies  an  caylc;  it  is  derived 
from  the  verb  shur,  to  contemplate,  because  the  eagle  gazes  stead 
fastly  at  the  sun.  The  Greek  for  eayle  is  'uterus,  rapid  fliyht. 

The  children  of  Israel  were  struck  with  what  is  most  sublime 
30*  X 


351  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


in  tlie  eagle;  they  beheld  him  motionless  on  the  mountain  rock 
watching  the  orb  of  day  on  his  return. 

The  Athenians  perceived  only  the  impetuous  flight  of  the  bird 
and  that  motion  which  harmonized  with  the  peculiar  movement 
of  their  own  thoughts.  Such  are  precisely  those  images  of  sun, 
fire,  and  mountains,  so  frequently  employed  in  the  Bible,  and 
those  allusions  to  sounds,  courses,  and  passages,  which  so  re 
peatedly  occur  in  Homer.1 

Our  terms  of  comparison  will  be,  Simplicity;  Antiquity  of 
Manners ;  Narration ;  Description ;  Comparisons  or  Images ;  the 
Sublime.  Let  us  examine  the  first  of  these  terms. 

1.    SIMPLICITY. 

The  simplicity  of  the  Bible  is  more  concise  and  more  solemn ; 
the  simplicity  of  Homer  more  diffuse  and  more  lively :  the 
former  is  sententious,  and  employs  the  same  terms  for  the 
expression  of  new  ideas;  the  latter  is  fond  of  expatiating,  and 
often  repeats  in  the  same  phrases  what  has  been  said  before. 
The  simplicity  of  Scripture  is  that  of  an  ancient  priest,  who, 
imbued  with  all  the  sciences,  human  and  divine,  pronounces  from 
the  recess  of  the  sanctuary  the  precise  oracles  of  wisdom.  The 
simplicity  of  the  poet  of  Chios  is  that  of  an  aged  traveller,  who, 
beside  the  hearth  of  his  host,  relates  all  that  he  has  learned  in 
the  course  of  a  long  and  chequered  life. 

2.    ANTIQUITY    OF    MANNERS. 

The  sons  of  the  shepherds  of  the  East  tend  their  flocks  like  the 
sons  of  the  king  of  Ilium.  But  if  Paris  returns  to  Troy,  it  is  to 
reside  in  a  palace  among  slaves  and  in  the  midst  of  luxury.  A 
tent,  a  frugal  table,  rustic  attendants, — this  is  all  that  Jacob's 
children  have  to  expect  at  the  paternal  home. 

No  sooner  does  a  visitor  arrive  at  the  habitation  of  a  prince  in 
Homer  than  the  women,  and  sometimes  even  the  king's  daughter 
herself,  lead  the  stranger  to  the  bath.  He  is  anointed  with 

1  Au:rdf  seems  to  come  from  the  Hebrew  H AIT,  to  go  forth  impetuously,  unless 
it  be  derived  from  ATE,  soothsayer,  or  ATH,  prodigy.  The  art  of  divination 
might  thus  be  traced  to  an  etymology.  The  Latin  aquila  comes  evidently  from 
the  Hebrew  aiouke,  animal  with  claws,  by  giving  it  the  Latin  termination  a, 
pronouncing  the  «  like  ou,  and  transposing  the  k  and  changing  it  into  q. 


THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  355 


perfumes,  water  is  brought  him  in  ewers  of  gold  and  silver,  he 
is  invested  with  a  purple  mantle,  conducted  to  the  festive  hall, 
and  seated  in  a  beautiful  chair  of  ivory  raised  upon  a  step  of 
curious  workmanship.  Slaves  mingle  wine  and  water  in  goblets, 
and  present  the  gifts  of  Ceres  in  a  basket;  the  master  of  the 
house  helps  him  to  the  juicy  portion  of  the  victim,  of  which  he 
gives  him  five  times  more  than  to  any  of  the  others.  The  great 
est  ct  eerfulness  prevails  during  the  repast,  and  hunger  is  soon 
appeased  in  the  midst  of  plenty.  When  they  have  finished  eat 
ing,  the  stranger  is  requested  to  relate  his  history.  At  length, 
when  he  is  about  to  depart,  rich  presents  are  made  him,  let  his 
appearance  at  first  have  been  ever  so  mean ;  for  it  is  supposed 
that  he  is  either  a  god  who  comes  thus  disguised  to  surprise  the 
heart  of  kings,  or  at  least  an  unfortunate  man,  and  consequently 
a  favorite  of  Jupiter. 

Beneath  the  tent  of  Abraham  the  reception  is  different.  The 
patriarch  himself  goes  forth  to  meet  his  guest;  he  salutes  him, 
and  then  pays  his  adorations  to  God.  The  sons  lead  away  the 
camels,  and  the  daughters  fetch  them  water  to  drink.  The  feet 
of  the  traveller  are  washed;  he  seats  himself  on  the  ground,  and 
partakes  in  silence  of  the  repast  of  hospitality.  No  inquiries  are 
made  concerning  his  history;  no  questions  are  asked  him;  he 
stays  or  pursues  his  journey  as  he  pleases.  At  his  departure  a 
covenant  is  made  with  him,  and  a  stone  is  erected  as  a  memorial 
of  the  treaty.  This  simple  altar  is  designed  to  inform  future 
ages  that  two  men  of  ancient  times  chanced  to  meet  in  the  road 
of  life,  and  that,  after  having  behaved  to  one  another  like  two 
brothers,  they  parted  never  to  come  together  again,  and  to  inter 
pose  vast  regions  between  their  graves. 

Take  notice  that  the  unknown  guest  is  a  sfranger  with  Homer 
and  a  traveller  in  the  Bible.  What  different  views  of  humanity! 
The  Greek  implies  merely  a  political  and  local  idea,  where  the 
Hebrew  conveys  a  moral  and  universal  sentiment. 

In  Homer,  all  civil  transactions  take  place  with  pomp  and 
parade.  A  judge  seated  in  the  midst  of  the  public  place  pro 
nounces  his  sentences  with  a  loud  voice.  Nestor  on  the  seashore 
presides  at  sacrifices  or  harangues  the  people.  Nuptial  rites  are 
accompanied  with  torches,  epithalamiums,  and  garlands  sus 
pended  from  the  doors;  an  army,  a  whole  nation,  attends  the 


356  GENIUS   OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


funeral  of  a  king;  an  oath  is  taken  in  the  name  of  the  Furies, 
with  dreadful  imprecations. 

Jacob,  under  a  palm-tree  at  the  entrance  of  his  tent,  adminis 
ters  justice  to  his  shepherds.  "  Put  thy  hand  under  my  thigh," 
said  the  aged  Abraham  to  his  servant,  "and  swear  to  go  into 
Mesopotamia"1  Two  words  are  sufficient  to  conclude  a  marriage 
by  the  side  of  a  fountain.  The  servant  conducts  the  bride  to  the 
son  of  his  master,  or  the  master's  son  engages  to  tend  the  flocks 
of  his  father-in-law  for  seven  years  in  order  to  obtain  his  daugh 
ter.  A  patriarch  is  carried  by  his  sons  after  his  death  to  the 
sepulchre  of  his  ancestors  in  the  field  of  Ephron.  These  cus 
toms  are  of  higher  antiquity  than  those  delineated  by  Homer, 
because  they  are  more  simple ;  they  have  also  a  calmness  and 
a  solemnity  not  to  be  found  in  the  former. 

3.    NARRATION. 

The  narrative  of  Homer  is  interrupted  by  digressions,  ha 
rangues,  descriptions  of  vessels,  garments,  arms,  and  sceptres, 
by  genealogies  of  men  and  things.  Proper  names  are  always 
surcharged  with  epithets.  A  hero  seldom  fails  to  be  divine,  like 
the  immortals,  or  honored  by  the  nations  as  a  God.  A  princess 
is  sure  to  have  handsome  arms;  her  shape  always  resembles  the 
trunk  of  the  palm-tree  of  Delos,  and  she  owes  her  locks  to  the 
younyest  of  the  graces. 

The  narrative  of  the  Bible  is  rapid,  without  digression,  with 
out  circumlocution;  it  is  broken  into  short  sentences,  and  the 
persons  are  named  without  flattery.  These  names  are  inces 
santly  recurring,  and  the  pronoun  is  scarcely  ever  used  instead 
of  them, — a  circumstance  which,  added  to  the  frequent  repetition 
of  the  conjunction  and,  indicates  by  this  extraordinary  simplicity 
a  society  much  nearer  to  the  state  of  nature  than  that  sung  by 
Homer.  All  the  selfish  passions  are  awakened  in  the  characters 
of  the  Odyssey,  whereas  they  are  dormant  in  those  of  Genesis. 


1  The  custom  of  swearing  by  the  generation  of  men  is  a  natural  image  of  the 
manners  of  that  primeval  age  when  a  great  portion  of  the  earth  was  still  a 
desert  waste,  and  man  was  the  chief  and  most  precious  object  in  the  eyes  of 
his  fellow-man.  This  custom  was  also  known  among  the  Greeks,  as  we  learn 
from  the  life  of  Crates ;  Diog.  Laer.,  1.  vi. 


THE  BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  357 

4.  DESCRIPTION. 

The  descriptions  of  Homer  are  prolix,  whether  they  be  of  the 
pathetic  or  terrible  character,  melancholy  or  cheerful,  energetic 
or  sublime. 

The  Bible,  in  all  its  different  species  of  description,  gives  in 
general  but  one  single  trait;  but  this  trait  is  striking,  and  dis 
tinctly  exhibits  the  object  to  our  view. 

5.  COMPARISONS. 

The  comparisons  of  Homer  are  lengthened  out  by  incidental 
circumstances;  they  are  little  pictures  hung  round  an  edifice  to 
refresh  the  eye  of  the  spectator,  fatigued  with  the  elevation  of 
the  domes,  by  calling  his  attention  to  natural  scenery  and  rural 
manners. 

The  comparisons  of  the  Bible  are  generally  expressed  in  few 
words;  it  is  a  lion,  a  torrent,  a  storm,  a  conflagration,  that  roars, 
falls,  ravages,  consumes.  Circumstantial  similes,  however,  are 
also  met  with;  but,  then,  an  oriental  turn  is  adopted,  and  tho 
object  is  personified,  as  pride  in  the  cedar,  &c. 

6.  THE    SUBLIME. 

Finally,  the  sublime  in  Homer  commonly  arises  from  the  gene 
ral  combination  of  the  parts,  and  arrives  by  degrees  at  its  acme. 

In  the  Bible  it  is  always  unexpected;  it  bursts  upon  you  like 
lightning,  and  you  are  left  wounded  by  the  thunderbolt  before 
you  know  how  you  were  struck  by  it. 

In  Homer,  again,  the  sublime  consists  in  the  magnificence  of 
the  words  harmonizing  with  the  majesty  of  thought. 

In  the  Bible,  on  the  contrary,  the  highest  sublimity  often  arises 
from  a  vast  discordance  between  the  majesty  of  the  ideas  and  the 
littleness,  nay,  the  triviality,  of  the  word  that  expresses  them.  The 
soul  is  thus  subjected  to  a  terrible  shock ;  for  when,  exalted  by 
thought,  it  has  soared  to  the  loftiest  regions,  all  on  a  sudden  the 
expression,  instead  of  supporting  it,  lets  it  fall  from  heaven  to 
earth,  precipitating  it  from  the  bosom  of  the  divinity  into  the 
mire  of  this  world.  This  species  of  sublime — the  most  impetuous 
of  all — is  admirably  adapted  to  an  immense  and  awful  being,  allied 
at  once  to  the  greatest  and  the  most  trivial  objects. 


358  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

CONTINUATION    OF    THE    PARALLEL    BETWEEN    THE   BIBLE   AND 
HOMER — EXAMPLES. 

A  FEW  examples  will  now  complete  the  development  of  our 
parallel.  We  shall  reverse  the  order  which  we  before  pursued, — 
that  is,  we  shall  begin  with  addresses,  from  which  short  and  de 
tached  passages  may  be  quoted,  in  the  nature  of  the  sublime  and 
the  simile,  and  conclude  with  the  simplicity  and  antiquity  of 
manners. 

There  is  a  passage  remarkably  sublime  in  the  Iliad;  it  is  that 
which  represents  Achilles,  after  the  death  of  Patroclus,  appearing 
unarmed  at  the  entrenchments  of  the  Greeks,  and  striking  terror 
into  the  Trojan  battalions  by  his  shouts.1  The  golden  cloud 
which  encircles  the  brows  of  Pelides,  the  flame  which  plays  upon 
his  head,  the  comparison  of  this  flame  with  a  fire  kindled  at  night 
on  the  top  of  a  besieged  tower,  the  three  shouts  of  Achilles  which 
thrice  throw  the  Trojan  army  into  confusion,  form  altogether 
that  Homeric  sublime  which,  as  we  have  observed,  is  composed 
of  the  combination  of  several  beautiful  incidents  with  magnifi 
cence  of  words. 

Here  is  a  very  different  species  of  the  sublime ;  it  is  the  move 
ment  of  the  ode  in  its  highest  enthusiasm. 

"  The  burden  of  the  valley  of  vision.  What  aileth  thee  also, 
that  thou,  too,  art  wholly  gone  up  to  the  house-tops  ?  Full  of 
clamor,  a  populous  city,  a  joyous  city :  thy  slain  are  not  slain  by 

the  sword,  nor  dead  in  battle Behold,  the  Lord  .... 

will  crown  thee  with  a  crown  of  tribulation ;  he  will  toss  thee  like 
a  ball  into  a  large  and  spacious  country;  there  shalt  thou  die, 
and  there  shall  the  chariot  of  thy  glory  be,  the  shame  of  the 
house  of  thy  Lord."2 

Into  what  unknown  world  does  the  prophet  all  at  once  trans 
port  you  ?  Who  is  it  that  speaks,  and  to  whom  are  these  words 
addressed  ?  Movement  follows  upon  movement,  and  each  verse 

1  Iliad,  lib.  xviii.  204.  2  isaias  xxii>  1}  2,  18. 


THE   BIBLE   AND    HOMER   COMPARED.  359 

produces  greater  astonishment  than  that  which  precedes  it  The 
city  is  no  longer  an  assemblage  of  edifices ;  it  is  a  female,  or 
rather  a  mysterious  character,  for  the  sex  is  not  specified.  This 
person  is  represented  going  to  the  house-tops  to  mourn;  the  pro 
phet,  sharing  her  agitation,  asks  in  the  singular,  "  Wherefore  dost 
thou  ascend"?  and  he  adds  wholly,  in  the  collective:  "  He  shall 
throw  you  like  a  ball  into  a  spacious  field,  and  to  this  shall  the 
chariot  of  your  glory  be  reduced."  Here  are  combinations  of 
words  and  a  poetry  truly  extraordinary. 

Homer  has  a  thousand  sublime  ways  of  characterizing  a  violent 
death ;  but  the  Scripture  has  surpassed  them  all  in  this  single 
expression  : — "  The  first-born  of  death  shall  devour  his  strength." 

The  fi rst-born  of  death,  to  imply  the  most  cruel  death,  is  one 
of  those  metaphors  which  are  to  be  found  nowhere  but  in  the 
Bible.  We  cannot  conceive  whither  the  human  mind  has  been 
in  quest  of  this ;  all  the  paths  that  lead  to  this  species  of  the 
sublime  are  unexplored  and  unknown.1 

It  is  thus  also  that  the  Scriptures  term  death  the  king  of  ter 
rors;'*  and  thus,  too,  they  say  of  the  wicked  man,  he  hath  con 
ceived  sorrow,  and  brought  forth  iniquity.3 

When  the  same  Job  would  excite  a  high  idea  of  the  greatness 
of  God,  he  exclaims  : — Hell  is  naked  before  him,,* — he  withhohl- 
eth  the  waters  in  the  clouds,5 — he  taketh  the  scarf  from  kings, 
and  girdeth  their  loins  with  a  cord.9 

The  soothsayer  Theoclimenus  is  struck,  while  partaking  of  the 
banquet  of  Penelope,  with  the  sinister  omens  by  which  the  suitois 
are  threatened.  He  addresses  them  in  this  apostrophe : — 

0  race  to  death  devote !  with  Stygian  shade 

Each  destined  peer  impending  fates  invade : 

With  tears  your  wan,  distorted  cheeks  are  drowned ; 

With  sanguine  drops  the  walls  are  rubied  round: 

Thick  swarms  the  spacious  hall  with  howling  ghosts, 

To  people  Orcus  and  the  burning  coasts ! 

Nor  gives  the  sun  his  golden  orb  to  roll, 

But  universal  night  usurps  the  pole.7 

1  Job  xviii.  13.  We  have  followed  here  the  Hebrew  text,  with  the  poly- 
glott  of  Xi incur.-,  the  versions  of  Sanotes  Pagnin,  Arius  Montanus,  A3.  The 
Vulgate  has,  "  first-born  death,"  primoyenita  mort. 

8  Ibid.  v.  14.  3  Ibid.  xv.  35.  «  Ibid.  xxvi.  «. 

6  Ibid.  xii.  15.  e  ibid.  xii.  18. 

7  Pope's  Homer' »  Ody**.,  book  xx.  423-430. 


360  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

Awful  as  this  sublime  may  be,  still  it  is  inferior  in  this  respect 
to  the  vision  of  Eliphaz,  in  the  book  of  Job  :  — 

"  In  the  horror  of  a  vision  by  night,  when  deep  sleep  is  wont 
to  hold  men,  fear  seized  upon  me,  and  trembling,  and  all  my 
bones  were  affrighted  ;  and  when  a  spirit  passed  before  me,  the 
hair  of  my  flesh  stood  up.  There  stood  one  whose  countenance 
I  knew  not,  an  image  before  my  eyes,  and  I  heard  the  voice  as 
it  were  of  a  gentle  wind."1 

Here  we  have  much  less  blood,  less  darkness,  and  fewer  tears, 
than  in  Homer  ;  but  that  unknown  countenance  and  gentle  wind 
are,  in  fact,  much  more  awful. 

As  to  that  species  of  the  sublime  which  results  from  the  col 
lision  of  a  great  idea  and  a  feeble  image,  we  shall  presently  see 
a  fine  example  of  it  when  we  come  to  treat  of  comparisons. 

If  the  bard  of  Ilium  represents  a  youth  slain  by  the  javelin  of 
Menelaus,  he  compares  him  to  a  young  olive-tree  covered  with 
flowers,  planted  in  an  orchard,  screened  from  the  intense  heat  of 
the  sun,  amid  dew  and  zephyrs  ,  but,  suddenly  overthrown  by  an 
impetuous  wind  upon  its  native  soil,  it  falls  on  the  brink  of  the 
nutritive  waters  that  conveyed  the  sap  to  its  roots.  Such  is  the 
long  simile  of  -Homer,  with  its  elegant  and  charming  details  :  — 

Ka\ovf  rr/AcSaoj/,  TO&Z  re  Ttvoiai  tiovtaai 

KO.I  r£/?pua  avSet  \SVKO). 


As  the  young  olive  in  some  sylvan  scene, 
Crowned  by  fresh  fountains  with  eternal  green, 
Lifts  the  gay  head  in  snowy  flow'rets  fair, 
And  plays  and  dances  to  the  gentle  air  ; 
When  lo!  a  whirlwind  from  high  heaven  invades 
The  tender  plant,  and  withers  all  its  shades  j 
It  lies  uprooted  from  its  genial  bed, 
A  lovely  ruin,  now  defaced  and  dead.2 

In  reading  these  lines,  we  seem  to  hear  the  sighings  of  the 
wind  through  the  summit  of  the  olive. 

The  Bible,  instead  of  all  this,  has  but  a  single  trait.  "  The 
wicked,"  it  says,  "  shall  be  blasted  as  a  vine  when  its  grapes  are 
in  the  first  flower,  and  as  an  olive-tree  that  casteth  its  flowers."3 

"  With  shaking  shall  the  earth  be  shaken  as  a  drunken  man," 

i  Job  iv.  13-16.  *  Iliad,  lib.  xvii.  55,  56.  3  j0b  xv.  33. 


THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED  361 

exclaims  Isaias,     "  and  shall   be   removed  as  the  tent  of  one 
night."1 

Here  is  the  sublime  in  contrast.  At  the  words,  it  shall  be  re 
moved,  the  mind  remains  suspended,  and  expects  some  great 
comparison,  when  the  prophet  adds,  like  the  tent  of  one  night. 
You  behold  the  earth,  which  to  us  appears  so  vast,  spread  out  in 
tie  air,  and  then  carried  away  with  ease  by  the  mighty  God  by 
whom  it  was  extended,  and  with  whom  the  duration  of  ages  is 
scarcely  as  a  rapid  night. 

Of  the  second  species  of  comparison  which  we  have  ascribed 
to  the  Bible,  that  is,  the  long  simile,  we  meet  with  the  following 
instance  in  Job  : — 

"  He  (the  wicked  man)  seemeth  to  have  moisture  before  the 
Bun  cometh,  and  at  his  rising  his  blossom  shall  shoot  forth.  His 
roots  shall  be  thick  upon  a  heap  of  stones,  and  among  the  stones 
he  shall  abide.  If  one  swallow  him  up  out  of  his  place,  he  shall 
deny  him,  and  shall  say,  I  know  thee  not."2 

How  admirable  is  this  simile,  or,  rather,  this  prolonged  meta 
phor  !  Thus,  the  wicked  are  denied  by  those  sterile  hearts,  by 
those  heaps  of  stones,  in  which,  during  their  guilty  prosperity, 
they  foolishly  struck  root.  Those  flints  which  all  at  once  acquire 
the  faculty  of  speech  exhibit  a  species  of  personification  almost 
unknown  to  the  Ionian  bard.3 

Ezekiel,  prophesying  the  destruction  of  Tyre,  exclaims : — 
"Now  shall  the  ships  be  astonished  in  the  day  of  thy  terror; 
andv  the  islands  in  the  sea  shall  be  troubled,  because  no  one 
cometh  out  of  thee."4 

Can  any  thing  be  more  awful  and  more  impressive  than  this 
image?  You  behold  in  imagination  that  city,  once  so  flourishing 
and  so  populous,  still  standing  with  all  her  towers  and  all  her 
edifices,  but  not  a  living  creature  traversing  her  desert  streets 
or  passing  through  her  solitary  gates. 

Let  us  proceed  to  examples  of  the  narrative  kind,  which  ex 
hibit  a  combination  of  sentiment,  description,  imagery,  simjrficity, 
and  antiquity  of  manners. 


1  Isaiaa  xxiv.  20.  2  Job  viii.  16-18. 

3  Homer  has  represented  the  shore  of  the  Hellespont  as  weeping. 

4  Ezek.  xxvi.  18. 

31 


362  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 


The  most  celebrated  passages,  the  most  striking  and  most  ad 
mired  traits  in  Homer,  occur  almost  word  for  word  in  the  Bible, 
but  here  they  invariably  possess  an  incontestable  superiority. 

Ulysses  is  seated  at  the  festive  board  of  king  Alcinoiis,  while 
Demodocus  sings  the  Trojan  war  and  the  misfortunes  of  the 
Greeks : — 

Touched  at  the  song,  Ulysses  straight  resigned 
To  soft  affliction  all  his  manly  mind : 
Before  his  eyes  the  purple  vest  he  drew, 
Industrious  to  conceal  the  falling  dew; 
But  when  the  music  paused,  he  ceased  to  shed 
The  flowing  tear,  and  raised  his  drooping  head ; 
And,  lifting  to  the  gods  a  goblet  crowned, 
He  poured  a  pure  libation  to  the  ground. 
Transported  with  the  song,  the  listening  train 
Again  with  loud  applause  demand  the  strain : 
Again  Ulysses  veiled  his  pensive  head, 
Again  unmanned,  a  shower  of  sorrow  shed.1 

Beauties  of  this  nature  have,  from  age  to  age,  secured  to 
Homer  the  first  place  among  the  greatest  geniuses.  It  reflects 
no  discredit  upon  his  memory  that  he  has  been  surpassed  in 
such  pictures  by  men  who  wrote  under  the  immediate  inspiration 
of  heaven.  But  vanquished  he  certainly  is,  and  in  such  a  man 
ner  as  to  leave  criticism  no  possible  subterfuge. 

They  who  sold  Joseph  into  Egypt,  the  own  brothers  of  that 
powerful  man,  return  to  him  without  knowing  who  he  is,  and 
bring  young  Benjamin  with  them,  according  to  his  desire. 

"  Joseph,  courteously  saluting  them  again,  asked  them,  saying, 
Is  the  old  man,  your  father,  in  health,  of  whom  you  told  me? — 
is  he  yet  living? 

"  And  they  answered,  Thy  servant,  our  father,  is  in  health, — 
he  is  yet  living.  And,  bowing  themselves,  they  made  obeisance 
to  him. 

"And  Joseph,  lifting  up  his  eyes,  saw  Benjamin,  his  brother 
by  the  same  mother,  and  said,  Is  this  your  young  brother  of 
whom  you  told  me?  And  he  said,  God  be  gracious  to  thee, 
my  son. 

"And  he  made  haste,  because  his  heart  was  moved  upon  his 
brother,  and  tears  gushed  out;  and,  going  into  his  chamber,  he 
wept. 

1  Pope's  Homer't  Odyaa.,  b.  viii.  79-90. 


THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  363 

"  And  when  he  had  washed  his  face,  coming  out  again,  he  re 
frained  himself,  and  said,  Set  bread  on  the  table."1 

Here  are  Joseph's  tears  in  opposition  to  those  of  Ulysses 
Here  are  beauties  of  the  very  same  kind,  and  yet  what  a  differ 
ence  in  pathos !  Joseph  weeping  at  the  sight  of  his  ungrateful 
brethren  and  of  the  young  and  innocent  Benjamin — this  man 
ner  of  inquiring  concerning  his  father — this  adorable  simplicity — 
this  mixture  of  grief  and  kindness — are  things  wholly  ineffable. 
The  tears  naturally  start  into  your  eyes,  and  you  are  ready  to 
weep  like  Joseph. 

Ulysses,  disguised  in  the  house  of  Eumaeus,  reveals  himself  to 
Telemachus.  He  leaves  the  habitation  of  the  herdsman,  strips 
off  his  rags,  and,  restored  to  his  beauty  by  a  touch  of  Minerva's 
wand,  he  returns  magnificently  attired. 

The  prince,  o'erawed, 
Scarce  lifts  his  eyes,  and  bows  as  to  a  god. 
Then  with  surprise,  (surprise  chastised  by  fears,) 
How  art  thou  changed!  he  cries;  a  god  appears! 
Far  other  vests  thy  limbs  mnjestic  grace; 
Far  other  glories  lighten  from  thy  face ! 
If  heaven  be  thy  abode,  with  pious  care, 
Lo!  I  the  ready  sacrifice  prepare; 
Lo !  gifts  of  labored  gold  adorn  thy  shrine, 
To  win  thy  grace.     Oh  save  us,  power  divine 

Few  are  my  days,  Ulysses  made  reply, 
Nor  I,  alas  !  descendant  of  the  sky. 
I  am  thy  father.     Oh  my  son  !  my  son  ! 
That  father  for  whose  sake  thy  days  have  run 
One  scene  of  wo — to  endless  cares  consigned 
And  outraged  by  the  wrongs  of  base  mankind. 
Then,  rushing  to  his  arms,  he  kissed  his  boy 
With  the  strong  raptures  of  a  parent's  joy. 
Tears  bathe  his  cheek,  and  tears  the  ground  bedew 
He  strained  him  close,  as  to  his  breast  ho  grew.2 

We  shall  recur  to  this  interview;  but  let  us  first  turn  to  that 
between  Joseph  and  his  brethren. 

Joseph,  after  a  cup  has  been  secretly  introduced  by  his  direc 
tion  into  Benjamin's  sack,  orders  the  sons  of  Jacob  to  be  stopped. 
The  latter  are  thunder-struck.  Joseph  affects  an  intention  to 


1  Genesis  xlii  i.  26-31.  2  Pope's  HomeSa  Odytsey,  book  xvi.  194-213 


364  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


detain  the  culprit.  Juda  offers  himself  as  a  hostage  for  Ben 
jamin.  He  relates  to  Joseph  that,  before  their  departure  for 
Egypt,  Jacob  had  said  to  them : — 

"  You  know  that  my  wife  bore  me  two. 

"  One  went  out,  and  you  said  a  beast  devoured  him;  and  hither 
to  he  appeareth  not. 

"  If  you  take  this,  also,  and  any  thing  befall  him  in  the  way, 
you  will  bring  down  niy  gray  hairs  with  sorrow  unto  hell 

"  Joseph  could  no  longer  refrain  himself  before  many  that  stood 
by;  whereupon  he  commanded  that  all  should  go  out,  and  no 
stranger  be  present  at  their  knowing  one  another. 

"And  he  lifted  up  his  voice  with  weeping,  which  the  Egyp 
tians  and  all  the  house  of  Pharao  heard. 

"And  he  said  to  his  brethren,  I  am  Joseph;  is  my  father  yet 
living?  His  brethren  could  not  answer  him,  being  struck  with 
exceeding  great  fear. 

"And  he  said  mildly  to  them,  Come  ne'arer  to  me.  And 
when  they  were  come  near  him  he  said,  I  am  Joseph,  your  bro 
ther,  whom  ye  sold  into  Egypt. 

"Be  not  afraid;  ....  not  by  your  counsel  was  I  sent  hither, 
but  by  the  will  of  God. 

"  Make  haste  and  go  ye  up  to  my  father. 

"And,  falling  upon  the  neck  of  his  brother  Benjamin,  he  em 
braced  him  and  wept;  and  Benjamin  in  like  manner  wept  also 
on  his  neck. 

"And  Joseph  kissed  all  his  brethren,  and  wept  upon  every 
one  of  them."1 

Such  is  the  history  of  Joseph,  which  we  find  not  in  the  work 
of  a  sophist,  (for  that  which  springs  from  the  heart  and  from 
tears  is  not  understood  by  him;)  but  we  find  this  history  in  the 
volume  which  forms  the  groundwork  of  that  religion  so  despised 
by  sophists  and  freethinkers,  and  which  would  have  a  just  right 
to  return  contempt  for  contempt,  were  not  charity  its  essence. 
Let  us  examine  in  what  respects  the  interview  between  Joseph 
and  his  brethren  surpasses  the  discovery  of  Ulysses  to  Tele- 
machus. 

Homer,  in  our  opinion,  has,  in  the  first  place,  fallen  into  a  great 

1  Genesis  xliv.  and  xlv. 


THE   BIBLE   AND    HOMER  COMPARED.  365 


error  in  employing  the  marvellous  in  his  picture.  In  dramatic 
scenes,  when  the  passions  are  agitated  and  all  the  wonders  ought 
to  emanate  from  the  soul,  the  intervention  of  a  divinity  imparts 
coldness  to  the  action,  gives  to  the  sentiment  the  air  of  fable,  and 
discloses  the  falsehood  of  the  poet  where  we  expected  to  meet 
with  nothing  but  truth.  Ulysses,  making  himself  known  in  his 
rags  by  some  natural  mark,  would  have  been  much  more  pathetic. 
Of  this  Homer  was  himself  aware,  since  the  king  of  Ithica  was 
revealed  to  Euryclea,  his  nurse,  by  an  ancient  scar,  and  to  Laertes 
by  the  little  circumstance  of  the  pear-trees  which  the  good  old 
man  had  given  him  when  a  child.  We  love  to  find  that  the  heart 
of  the  destroyer  of  cities  is  formed  like  those  of  other  men,  and 
that  the  simple  affections  constitute  its  principal  element. 

The  discovery  is  much  more  ably  conducted  in  Genesis.  By 
an  artifice  of  the  most  harmless  revenge,  a  cup  is  put  into  the 
sack  of  the  young  and  innocent  Benjamin.  The  guilty  brethren 
are  overwhelmed  with  grief  when  they  figure  to  themselves  the 
affliction  of  their  aged  father;  and  the  image  of  Jacob's  sorrow, 
taking  the  heart  of  Joseph  by  surprise,  obliges  him  to  discover 
himself  sooner  than  he  had  intended.  As  to  the  pathetic  words, 
lam  Joseph,  everybody  knows  that  they  drew  tears  of  admiration 
from  Voltaire  himself.  Ulysses  found  in  Telemachus  a  dutiful 
and  affectionate  son.  Joseph  is  speaking  to  his  brethren  who 
had  sold  him.  He  does  not  say  to  them,  /  am  your  brother,  but 
merely,  I  am  Joseph;  and  this  name  awakens  all  their  feelings. 
Like  Telomachus,  they  are  deeply  agitated;  but  it  is  not  the  ma 
jesty  of  Pharao's  minister;  'tis  something  within  their  own  con 
sciences  that  occasions  their  consternation.  He  desires  them  to 
come  near  to  him;  for  he  raised  his  voice  to  such  a  pitch  as  to 
be  heard  by  the  whole  house  of  Pharao  when  he  said,  I  am  Jo 
seph.  His  brethren  alone  are  to  heai  the  explanation,  which  he 
adds  in  a  low  tone;  I  am  Joseph,  YOUR  BROTHER,  WHOM  YE  SOLD 
INTO  EGYPT.  Here  are  delicacy,  simplicity,  and  generosity,  carried 
to  the  highest  degree. 

Let  us  not  fail  to  remark  with  what  kindness  Joseph  cheers  hit- 
brethren,  and  the  excuses  which  he  makes  for  them  when  he 
says  that,  so  far  from  having  injured  him,  they  are,  on  the  con 
trary,  the  cause  of  his  elevation.  The  Scripture  never  fails  to  in 
troduce  Providence  in  the  perspective  of  its  pictures.  The  great 
31* 


366  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


counsel  of  God,  which  governs  all  human  affairs  at  the  moment 
when  they  seem  to  be  most  subservient  to  the  passions  of  men 
and  the  laws  of  chance,  wonderfully  surprises  the  mind.  We 
love  the  idea  of  that  hand  concealed  in  the  cloud  which  is  inces 
santly  engaged  with  men.  We  love  to  imagine  ourselves  some 
thing  in  the  plans  of  Infinite  Wisdom,  and  to  feel  that  this  transi 
tory  life  is  a  pattern  of  eternity. 

With  God  every  thing  is  great;  without  God  every  thing  is 
little  :  and  this  remark  applies  even  to  the  sentiments.  Suppose 
all  the  circumstances  in  Joseph's  story  to  happen  as  they  are  re 
corded  in  Genesis, — suppose  the  son  of  Jacob  to  be  as  kind,  as 
tender,  as  he  is  represented,  but,  at  the  same  time,  to  be  &philoso- 
pher,  and,  instead  of  telling  his  brethren,  lam  here  by  the  will 
of  the  Lord,  let  him  say,  fortune  has  favored  me.  The  objects 
are  instantly  diminished;  the  circle  becomes  contracted,  and  the 
pathos  vanishes  together  with  the  tears. 

Finally,  Joseph  kisses  his  brethren  as  Ulysses  embraces  Tele- 
machus;  but  he  begins  with  Benjamin.  A  modern  author 
would  not  have  failed  to  represent  him  falling  in  preference  upon 
the  neck  of  the  most  guilty  of  the  brothers,  that  his  hero  might 
be  a  genuine  tragedy  character.  The  Bible,  more  intimately  ac 
quainted  with  the  human  heart,  knew  better  how  to  appreciate 
that  exaggeration  of  sentiment  by  which  a  man  always  appears  to 
be  striving  to  perform  or  to  say  what  he  considers  something  ex 
traordinary.  Homer's  comparison  of  the  sobs  of  Telemachus  and 
Ulysses  with  the  cries  of  an  eagle  and  her  young,  had,  in  our 
opinion,  been  better  omitted  in  this  place.  "  And  he  fell  upon 
Benjamin's  neck,  and  kissed  him,  and  wept;  and  Benjamin  wept 
also,  as  he  held  him  in  his  embrace.'7  Such  is  the  only  magnifi 
cence  of  style  adapted  to  such  occasions. 

We  might  select  from  Scripture  other  narratives  equally  ex 
cellent  with  the  history  of  Joseph;  but  the  reader  himself  may 
easily  compare  them  with  passages  in  Homer.  Let  him  take, 
for  instance,  the  story  of  Ruth,  and  the  reception  of  Ulysses  by 
Eumseus.  The  book  of  Tobias  displays  a  striking  resemblance 
to  several  scenes  of  the  Iliad  and  Odyssey.  Priam  is  conducted 
by  Mercury  in  the  form  of  a  handsome  youth,  as  Tobias  is  ac 
companied  by  an  angel  in  the  like  disguise. 

The  Bible  is  particularly  remarkable  for  certain  modes  of  ex- 


THE    BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  a67 

pression — far  more  pathetic,  we  think,  than  all  the  poetry  of 
Homer.     When  the  latter  would  delineate  old  age  he  says: — 

Slow  from  bis  seat  arose  the  Pylean  sage, — 
Experienced  Nestor,  in  persuasion  skilled; 
Words  sweet  as  honey  from  his  lips  distilled. 
Two  generations  now  had  passed  ajray, 
Wise  by  his  rules,  and  happy  by  his  sway; 
Two  ages  o'er  his  native  realm  he  reigned, 
And  now  the  example  of  the  third  remained.! 

This  passage  possesses  the  highest  charms  of  antiquity,  as  well 
as  the  softest  melody.  The  second  verse,  with  the  repetitions  of 
the  letter  L,  imitates  the  sweetness  of  honey  and  the  pathetic 
eloquence  of  an  old  man  : — 

Tw  Kal  dird  yAuW»j;  fitAiroj  yAwn'ow  pvcv  aidn. 

Pharao  having  asked  Jacob  his  age,  the  patriarch  replies : — 

"The  days  of  my  pilgrimage  are  one  hundred  and  thirty  years, 
few  and  evil ;  and  they  are  not  come  up  to  the  days  of  the  pil 
grimage  of  my  fathers."* 

Here  are  two  very  different  kinds  of  antiquity.  The  one  lies 
in  the  image,  the  other  in  the  sentiments;  the  one  excites  pleas 
ing  ideas,  the  other  melancholy;  the  one,  representing  the  chief 
of  the  nation,  exhibits  the  old  man  only  in  relation  to  a  certain 
condition  of  life,  the  other  considers  him  individually  and  exclu 
sively.  Homer  leads  us  to  reflect  rather  upon  men  in  general, 
and  the  Bible  upon  the  particular  person. 

Homer  has  frequently  touched  upon  connubial  joys,  but  has  he 
produced  any  thing  like  the  following? 

"  Isaac  brought  Rebecca  into  the  tent  of  Sarah,  his  mother, 
and  took  her  to  wife,  and  he  loved  her  so  much  that  it  moderated 
the  sorrow  which  was  occasioned  by  his  mother's  death."3 

We  shall  conclude  this  parallel,  and  the  whole  subject  of 
Christian  poetics,  with  an  illustration  which  will  show  at  once  the 
difference  that  exists  between  the  style  of  the  Bible  and  that  of 
Homer;  we  shall  take  a  passage  from  the  former  and  present 
it  in  colors  borrowed  from  the  latter.  Ruth  thus  addresses 
Noemi : — 

1  Iliad,  b.  i.  2  Gen.  xlvii  9.  »  Gen.  xxiv.  67. 


GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 


"Be  not  against  me  to  desire  that  I  should  leave  thee  and  de 
part  ;  for  whithersoever  thou  shalt  go  I  will  go,  and  where  thou 
shalt  dwell  I  also  will  dwell.  Thy  people  shall  be  my  people, 
and  thy  God  my  God.  The  law  that  shall  receive  thee  dying,  in 
the  same  will  I  die."1 

Let  us  endeavor  to  render  this  passage  in  the  language  of 
Homer. 

The  fair  Ruth  thus  replies  to  the  wise  Noemi,  honored  by  the 
people  as  a  goddess :  "  Cease  to  oppose  the  determination  with 
which  a  divinity  inspires  me.  I  will  tell  thee  the  truth,  just  as 
it  is,  and  without  disguise.  I  will  remain  with  thee,  whether 
thou  shalt  continue  to  reside  among  the  Moabites,  so  dexterous  in 
throwing  the  javelin,  or  shalt  return  to  Judea,  so  fertile  in  olives. 
With  thee  I  will  demand  hospitality  of  the  nations  who  respect 
the  suppliant.  Our  ashes  shall  be  mingled  in  the  same  urn,  and 
I  will  offer  agreeable  sacrifices  to  the  God  who  incessantly  accom 
panies  thee. 

"She  said;  and  as,  when  a  vehement  wind  brings  a  cool  re 
freshing  rain  from  the  western  sky,  the  husbandmen  prepare  the 
wheat  and  the  barley,  and  make  baskets  of  rushes  nicely  inter 
woven,  for  they  foresee  that  the  falling  shower  will  soften  the 
soil  and  render  it  fit  for  receiving  the  precious  gifts  of  Ceres,  so 
the  words  of  Ruth,  like  the  fertilizing  drops,  melted  the  whole 
heart  of  Noemi." 

Something  like  this,  perhaps, — so  far  as  our  feeble  talents  allow 
us  to  imitate  Homer, — would  be  the  style  of  that  immortal  genius. 
But  has  not  the  verse  of  Ruth,  thus  amplified,  lost  the  original 
charm  which  it  possesses  in  the  Scripture?  What  poetry  can 
ever  be  equivalent  to  that  single  stroke  of  eloquence,  Populus 
tuus  populus  meus,  Deus  tuus  Deus  meus.  It  will  now  be 
easy  to  take  a  passage  of  Homer,  to  efface  the  colors,  and  to 
leave  nothing  but  the  groundwork,  after  the  manner  of  the 
Bible. 

We  have  thus  endeavored,  to  the  best  of  our  limited  abilities, 
to  make  our  readers  acquainted  with  some  of  the  innumerable 
beauties  of  the  sacred  Scriptures.  Truly  happy  shall  we  be,  if 

1  Ruth  i.  16. 


THE   BIBLE   AND   HOMER   COMPARED.  369 


wo  have  succeeded  in  exciting  within  them  an  admiration  of  that 
grand  and  sublime  corner-stone  which  supports  the  church  of  Je 
sus  Christ! 

"  If  the  Scripture,"  says  St.  Gregory  the  Great,  "comprehends 
mysteries  capable  of  pe'.plexing  the  most  enlightened  under 
standings,  it  also  contains  simple  truths  fit  for  the  nourishment 
oi  the  humble  and  the,  illiterate ;  it  carries  externally  wherewith 
to  suckle  infants,  and  in  its  most  secret  recesses  wherewith  to  fill 
the  most  sublime  geniuses  with  admiration ;  like  a  river  whose 
current  is  so  shallow  in  certain  parts  that  a  lamb  may  cross  it, 
and  deep  enDugh  in  others  for  an  elephant  to  swim  there/' 


THE    FINE    ARTS    AND    LITERATURE. 


BOOK    I. 

THE   FINE   ARTS. 
CHAPTER   I. 

MUSK1.. 

Of  the  Influence  of  Christianity  upon  Music. 

To  the  Fine  Arts,  the  sisters  of  poetry,  we  have  now  to  direct 
our  attention.  Following  the  steps  of  the  Christian  religion, 
they  acknowledged  her  for  their  mother  the  moment  she  appeared 
in  the  world ;  they  lent  her  their  terrestrial  charms,  and  she  con 
ferred  on  them  her  divinity.  Music  noted  down  her  hymns ; 
Painting  represented  her  in  her  mournful  triumphs ;  Sculpture 
delighted  in  meditating  with  her  among  the  tombs;  and  Archi 
tecture  built  her  temples  sublime  and  melancholy  as  her  thoughts. 

Plato  has  admirably  denned  the  real  nature  of  music.  "We 
must  not  judge  of  music,"  said  he,  "by  the  pleasure  which  it 
affords,  nor  prefer  that  kind  which  has  no  other  object  than 
pleasure,  but  that  which  contains  in  itself  a  resemblance  to  the 
beautiful." 

Music,  in  fact,  considered  as  an  art,  is  an  imitation  of  nature; 
its  perfection,  therefore,  consists  in  representing  the  most  beauti 
ful  nature  possible.  But  pleasure  is  a  matter  of  opinion  which 
varies  according  to  times,  manners,  and  nations,  and  whiclfc can 
not  be  the  beautiful,  since  the  beautiful  has  an  absolute  existence. 
Hence  every  institution  that  tends  to  purify  the  soul,  to  banish 
370 


MUSIC.  371 


fi  om  it  trouble  and  discord,  and  to  promote  the  growth  of  virtue, 
is  by  this  very  quality  favorable  to  the  best  music,  or  to  the  most 
perfect  imitation  of  the  beautiful.  But  if  this  institution  is 
moreover  of  a  religious  nature,  it  then  possesses  the  two  essential 
conditions  of  harmony : — the  beautiful  and  the  mysterious.  Song 
has  come  to  us  from  the  angels,  and  symphony  has  its  source  in 
heaven. 

It  is  religion  that  causes  the  vestal  to  sigh  amid  the  night  in 
her  peaceful  habitation;  it  is  religion  that  sings  so  sweetly  beside 
the  bed  of  affliction.  To  her  Jeremias  owed  his  lamentations 
and  David  the  sublime  effusions  of  his  repentance.  If,  prouder 
under  the  ancient  covenant,  she  depicted  only  the  sorrows  of 
monarchs  and  of  prophets, — more  modest,  and  not  less  royal,  under 
the  new  law,  her  sighs  are  equally  suited  to  the  mighty  and  the 
weak,  because  in  Jesus  Christ  she  has  found  humility  combined 
with  greatness. 

The  Christian  religion,  we  may  add,  is  essentially  melodious, 
for  this  single  reason,  that  she  delights  in  solitude.  Not  that 
she  has  any  antipathy  to  society;  there,  on  the  contrary,  she 
appears  highly  amiable  :  but  this  celestial  Philomela  prefers  the 
desert;  she  is  coy  and  retiring  beneath  the  roofs  of  men;  she 
loves  the  forests  better,  for  these  are  the  palaces  of  her  father 
and  her  ancient  abode.  Here  she  raises  her  voice  to  the  skies 
amid  the  concerts  of  nature;  nature  is  incessantly  celebrating 
the  praises  of  the  Creator,  and  nothing  can  be  more  religious 
than  the  hymns  chanted  in  concert  with  the  winds  by  the  oaks 
of  the  forest  and  the  reeds  of  the  desert. 

Thus  the  musician  who  would  follow  religion  in  all  her  rela 
tions  is  obliged  to  learn  the  art  of  imitating  the  harmonies  of 
solitude.  He  ought  to  be  acquainted  with  the  melancholy  notes 
of  the  waters  and  the  trees;  he  ought  to  study  the  sound  of 
the  winds  in  the  cloister  and  those  murmurs  that  pervade  the 
Gothic  temple,  the  grass  of  the  cemetery  and  the  vaults  of  death. 

Christianity  has  invented  the  organ  and  given  sighs  to  brass 
itself.  To  her  music  owed  its  preservation  in  the  barbarous 
ages;  wherever  she  has  erected  her  throne,  there  have  arisen  a 
people  who  sing  as  naturally  as  the  birds  of  the  air.  Song  is  the 
daughter  of  prayer,  and  prayer  is  the  companion  of  religion. 
She  has  civilized  the  savage,  only  by  the  means  of  hymns;  and 


372  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

the  Iroquois  who  would  not  submit  to  her  doctrines  was  over 
come  by  her  concerts.  0  religion  of  peace !  thou  hast  not,  like 
other  systems,  inculcated  the  precepts  of  hatred  and  discord  j 
thou  hast  taught  mankind  nothing  but  love  and  harmony. 


CHAPTER  II. 

THE   GREGORIAN   CHANT. 

IP  it  were  not  proved  by  history  that  the  Gregorian  chant  is 
a  relic  of  that  ancient  music  of  which  so  many  wonderful  things 
are  related,  the  examination  of  its  scale  would  itself  suffice  to 
convince  us  of  its  great  antiquity.1  Before  the  time  of  Guido 
Aretino,  it  rose  no  higher  than  the  fifth,  beginning  with  ut : — uty 
re,  mi,  fa,  sol,  or  c,  d,  e,  f,  g.  These  five  notes  are  the  natural 
gamut  of  the  voice,  and  produce  a  full  and  musical  scale.3 

Burette  has  left  us  some  Greek  tunes.  On  comparing  them 
with  the  plain  chant,  we  find  in  both  the  same  system. 
Most  of  the  Psalms  are  sublimely  solemn,  particularly  the  Dixit 
Dominus  Domino  meo,  the  Confitebor  tibi,  and  the  Laudate  pueri. 
The  In  Exitu,  arranged  by  Rameau,  is  of  a  less  antique  character, 
belonging,  perhaps,  to  the  same  age  as  the  Ut  queant  laxis, — that 

is  to  say,  the  age  of  Charlemagne. 

i __ — . — — . 

1  The  Gregorian  chant  is  so  called  from  St.  Gregory  the  Great,  who  introduced 
it,  and  who  flourished  in  the  sixth  century.     The  chief  points  in  which  it  differs 
from  modern  music  are  the  following: — It  has  not  as  great  a  variety  of  notes; 
its  melodies  are  more  grave;   and,  chiefly,  it  excludes  harmonization.     It  is 
also  called  plain-chant,  and  is  often  sung  in  unison  hy  the  choir  and  congrega 
tion.     T. 

2  Guido,  a  Benedictine  monk  of  Italy,  lived  in  the  eleventh  century.     He 
introduced  the  gamut,  and  is  supposed  to  have  been  acquainted  with  counter 
point.     He  was  the  first  to  employ  the  syllables  ut,  re,  mi,  <fcc.  for  the  designa 
tion  of  musical  notes,  deriving  them  from  the  first  stanza  of  the  hymn  in  honor 
of  St.  John  Baptist  :— 

Ut  queant  laxis  resonare  fibris, 
Mira,  gestorum /amuli  tuorum, 
Solve  polluti  Zabii  reatum, 

Sancte  Joannes.        — T. 


THE   GREGORIAN   CHANT.  37S 

Christianity  is  serious  as  man,  and  her  very  smile  is  grave. 
Nothing  is  more  exquisite  than  the  sighs  which  our  afflictions 
extort  from  religion.  The  whole  of  the  service  for  the  dead  is 
a  master-piece;  you  imagine  that  you  hear  the  hollow  murmurs 
of  the  grave.  An  ancient  tradition  records  that  the  chant  which 
delivers  the  dead,  as  it  is  termed  by  one  of  our  best  poets,  is  the 
same  that  was  performed  at  the  funeral  obsequies  of  the  Athenians 
about  the  time  of  Pericles. 

The  chant  of  the  Passion,  or  history  of  our  Saviour's  suffer 
ings,  during  the  holy  week,  is  worthy  of  remark.  The  recitative 
of  the  historian,  the  cries  of  the  Jewish  populace,  the  dignity  of 
the  answers  of  Jesus,  form  a  musical  drama  of  the  most  pathetic 
character. 

Pergolesi  has  displayed  in  his  Stabat  Mater  all  the  riches  of 
his  art;  but  has  he  surpassed  the  simple  music  of  the  Church? 
He  has  varied  the  melody  with  each  strophe;  and  yet  the  essen 
tial  character  of  melancholy  consists  in  the  repetition  of  the  same 
sentiment,  and,  if  we  may  so  express  ourselves,  in  the  monotony 
of  grief.  Various  reasons  may  draw  tears  from  our  eyes,  but 
our  tears  have  always  the  same  bitterness;  besides,  rarely  do  we 
weep  over  a  number  of  sorrows  at  once;  when  the  wounds  are 
numerous,  there  is  always  one  more  severe  than  the  rest,  which 
at  length  absorbs  all  inferior  pains.  Such  is  the  cause  of  the 
charm  which  pervades  our  old  French  ballads.  The  repetition 
of  the  notes  at  each  couplet  to  different  words  is  an  exact  imita 
tion  of  nature. 

Pergolesi,  then,  manifested  a  want  of  acquaintance  with  this 
truth,  which  is  intimately  connected  with  the  theory  of  the 
passions,  when  he  determined  that  not  a  sigh  of  the  soul  should 
resemble  the  sigh  that  had  gone  before  it.  Wherever  variety  is, 
there  is  distraction ;  and  wherever  distraction  is,  sorrow  is  at  an 
end :  so  necessary  is  unity  to  sentiment :  so  weak  is  man  in  this 
very  part  in  which  lies  all  his  strength,  we  mean,  in  grief.1 

1  These  remarks  of  the  author  are  unquestionably  true  when  the  musical 
aubject  possesses  a  unity  of  incident  as  well  as  of  sentiment.  Here  the  repeti 
tion  of  the  same  notes  is  very  expressive.  But  when  the  subject,  like  tho 
Stabat,  recalls  to  the  mind  a  variety  of  scenes,  does  not  the  perfection  of  the 
musical  art  require  that  <hese  scenes  should  be  represented  with  all  the  ex 
pressiveness  of  which  it  is  capable?  The  Requiem  of  Mozart  is  a  master-piece, 
32 


374  GENIUS   OF   CHRISTIANITY. 

The  lesson  of  the  Lamentations  of  Jeremiah  is  stamped  with 
a  peculiar  character.  It  may  have  been  retouched  by  the  moderns, 
but  to  us  the  ground  appears  to  be  of  Hebrew  origin,  for  it  bears 
no  resemblance  to  the  Greek  tunes  in  the  church  music.  The 
Pentateuch  was  sung  at  Jerusalem,  like  pastorals,  in  a  full  and 
soft  strain;  the  prophecies  were  repeated  in  a  harsh  and  emphatic 
tone;  and  the  psalms  had  an  ecstatic  mode  belonging  exclusively 
to  them.1  Here  we  fall  into  those  grand  recollections  which  the 
Catholic  worship  assembles  from  all  quarters : — Moses  and  Homer, 
Lebanon  and  Cytheron,  Solyma  and  Rome,  Babylon  and  Athens, 
have  deposited  their  remains  at  the  foot  of  our  altars. 

Finallv,  it  was  enthusiasm  itself  that  inspired  the  Te  Deum. 
When,  halting  in  the  plains  of  Lens  or  Fontenoy,  amid  clouds 
of  smoke  and  yet  reeking  blood,  a  French  army,  scathed  with 
the  thunderbolts  of  war,  bowed  the  knee  to  the  flourishes  of 
clarions  and  trumpets,  and  joined  in  a  hymn  of  praise  to  the 
God  of  battles, — or  when,  in  the  midst  of  lamps,  altars  of  gold, 
torches,  perfumes,  the  swelling  tones  of  the  organ,  and  the  full 
accompaniment  of  various  instruments,  this  grand  hymn  shook 
the  windows,  the  vaults,  and  the  domes  of  some  ancient  cathe 
dral, — there  was  not  a  soul  but  felt  transported,  not  one  but  ex 
perienced  some  portion  of  that  rapture  which  inspired  Pindar  in 
the  groves  of  Olympia  or  David  on  the  banks  of  the  Cedron. 

The  reader  will  observe  that,  in  treating  of  the  Greek  chants 
only  of  the  Church,  we  have  not  employed  all  our  means,  since 
we  might  have  exhibited  an  Ambrose,  a  Dainasus,  a  Leo,  a 
Gregory,  laboring  themselves  for  the  restoration  of  the  science 
of  music ;  we  might  have  enumerated  all  those  master-pieces  of 
modern  music  composed  for  Christian  solemnities,  as  well  as  all 
those  great  masters,  Vinci,  Leo,  Hasse,  Galuppi,  and  Durante, 
educated  or  patronized  in  the  oratories  of  Rome  and  at  the  court 
of  the  sovereign  pontiff.3 

because  it  has  an  imitative  power,  an  objective  excellence,  while  at  the  same 
time  its  general  tone  is  in  accordani3e  with  the  solemn  feelings  which  the  sub 
ject  inspires.  T. 

1  Bonnet's  History  of  Music  and  its  Effects. 

2  In  the  whole  range  of  musical  literature,  nothing  can  be  found  to  excel  the 
compositions  to  which  the  worship  and  piety  of  the  Catholic  Church  have  given 
birth.    T 


HISTORICAL  PAINTING.  375 


CHAPTER  IIL 

HISTORICAL   PAINTING   AMONG   THE    MODERNS. 

THE  pleasing  writers  of  Greece  relate  that  a  young  female, 
perceiving  the  shadow  of  her  lover  upon  a  wall,  chalked  the  out 
line  of  the  figure.  Thus,  according  to  antiquity,  a  transient  pas 
sion  produced  the  art  of  the  most  perfect  illusions. 

The  Christian  school  has  sought  another  master.  It  has  dis 
covered  him  in  that  Great  Artist  who,  moulding  a  morsel  of 
earth  in  his  mighty  hands,  pronounced  those  words,  Let  us  make 
man  in  our  own  image  !  For  us,  then,  the  first  stroke  of  design 
existed  in  the  -eternal  idea  of  God ;  and  the  first  statue  which 
the  world  beheld  was  that  noble  figure  of  clay  animated  by  the 
breath  of  the  Creator. 

There  is  a  force  of  error  which  compels  silence,  like  the  force 
of  truth ;  both,  carried  to  the  highest  pitch,  produce  conviction, 
the  former  negatively,  the  latter  affirmatively.  When,  therefore, 
we  hear  it  asserted  that  Christianity  is  inimical  to  the  arts,  we 
are  struck  dumb  with  astonishment,  for  we  cannot  forbear  calling 
to  mind  Michael  Angelo,  Raphael,  the  Caracci,  Domenichino, 
Lesueur,  Poussin,  Coustou,  and  crowds  of  other  artists,  whose 
names  alone  would  fill  whole  volumes. 

About  the  middle  of  the  fourth  century,  the  Roman  empire, 
invaded  by  barbarians  and  torn  in  pieces  by  heresy,  crumbled 
into  ruin  on  every  side.  The  arts  found  no  asylum  except  with 
the  Christians  and  the  orthodox  emperors.  Theodosius,  by  a 
special  law, — de  excusatione  artificum, — exempted  painters  and 
their  families  from  all  taxes  and  from  the  quartering  of  troops. 
The  fathers  of  the  Church  bestow  never-ceasing  praises  on  paint 
ing.  St.  Gregory  thus  expresses  himself: — "  I  frequently  gazed 
at  the  figure,  and  could  not  pass  it  without  shedding  tears,  as  it 
placed  the  whole  story  before  my  eyes  in  the  most  lively  manner."1 
This  was  a  picture  representing  the  sacrifice  of  Abraham.  St 

1  Second  Nicene  Coun.  Act.,  xi. 


376  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


Basil  goes  still  further;  for  he  asserts  that  painters  accomplish 
as  much  by  their  pictures  as  orators  by  their  eloquence.1  A 
monk,  named  Methodius,  executed,  in  the  ninth  century,  that 
Last  Judgment  which  converted  Bogoris,  king  of  the  Bulgarians.3 
The  clergy  had  collected  at  the  college  of  Orthodoxy,  at  Constan 
tinople,  the  finest  library  in  the  world,  and  all  the  master-pieces 
of  antiquity:  here,  in  particular,  was  to  be  seen  the  Venus  of 
Praxiteles,8  which  proves,  at  least,  that  the  founders  of  the  Ca 
tholic  worship  were  neither  barbarians  without  taste,  bigoted 
monks,  nor  the  Votaries  of  absurd  superstition. 

This  college  was  demolished  by  the  iconoclast  emperors.4  •  The 
professors  were  burnt  alive,  and  it  was  at  the  risk  of  meeting 
with  a  similar  fate  that  some  Christians  saved  the  dragon's  skin, 
one  hundred  and  twenty  feet  long,  on  which  the  works  of  Homer 
were  written  in  letters  of  gold.  The  pictures  belonging  to  the 
churches  were  consigned  to  the  flames.  Stupid  and  furious 
bigots,  nearly  resembling  the  Puritans  of  Cromwell's  time,  hacked 
to  pieces  with  their  sabres  the  admirable  mosaic-works  in  the 
.',hurch  of  the  Virgin  Mary  at  Constantinople,  and  in  the  palace 
of  Blaquernac.  To  such  a  height  was  this  persecution  carried 
that  it  involved  the  painters  themselves ;  they  were  forbidden, 
under  pain  of  death,  to  prosecute  their  profession.  Lazarus,  a 
monk,  had  the  courage  to  become  a  martyr  to  his  art.  In  vain 
did  Theophilus  cause  his  hands  to  be  burned,  to  prevent  him 
from  holding  the  pencil.  This  illustrious  friar,  concealed  in  the 
vault  of  St.  John  the  Baptist,  painted  with  his  mutilated  fingers 
the  great  saint  whose  protection  he  sought  j5  worthy,  undoubtedly, 
of  becoming  the  patron  of  painters,  and  of  being  acknowledged 
by  that  sublime  family  which  the  breath  of  the  Spirit  exalts  abovo 
the  rest  of  mankind. 

Tinder  the  empire  of  the  Goths  and  Lombards,  Christianity 
continued  to  lend  her  assisting  hand  to  talent.  These  efforts  are 
particularly  remarkable  in  the  churches  erected  by  Theodoric, 

1  St.  Basil,  horn.  20. 

*  Curopal.  Codron.  Zonar.  Mftiml).,  Hint,  of  the  Jconocl. 

a  Cedron.  Zonar.  Constant.,  and  Maiiub.,  Hint,  of  the  fconocl. 

4  The  IconochmtH  or  I  in  age-  breakers,  a  fanatical  sect  that  originated  in  the 
Kovonth  century.  At  a  later  period,  the  name  was  applied  to  all  who  were 
opposed  to  (ho  veneration  of  images.  T. 

8  Maimb.,  Hint,  of  the  Iconocf.,  Ocdren.  Curopal. 


HISTORICAL   PAINTING.  S77 

Luitprand,  and  Desiderius.  The  same  spirit  of  religion  actuated 
Charlemagne ;  and  the  Church  of  the  APOSTLES,  erected  by  that 
great  prince  at  Florence,  is,  even  at  the  present  day,  accounted  a 
fine  structure. 

At  length,  about  the  thirteenth  century,  the  Christian  religion, 
after  encountering  a  thousand  obstacles,  brought  back  the  choir 
of  Muses  in  triumph  to  the  earth.  Every  thing  was  done  for  the 
churches,  both  by  the  patronage  of  the  pontiffs  and  of  religious 
princes.  Bouchet,  a  Greek  by  birth,  was  the  first  architect, 
Nicolas  the  first  sculptor,  and  Cimabue  the  first  painter,  that  re 
covered  the  antique  style  from  the  ruins  of  Rome  and  Greece. 
From  that  time  the  arts  were  raised  by  different  hands  and  dif 
ferent  geniuses  to  the  pitch  of  excellence  which  they  attained  in 
the  great  age  of  Leo  X.,  when  Raphael  and  Michael  Angelo  burst 
forth  like  resplendent  luminaries. 

The  reader  is  aware  that  our  subject  does  not  require  us  to 
give  a  technical  history  of  the  art.  All  that  we  undertake  to 
show  is  in  what  respect  Christianity  is  more  favorable  to  painting 
than  any  other  religion.  Now,  it  is  an  easy  task  to  prove  three 
things — Firstly,  that  the  Christian  religion,  being  of  a  spiritual 
and  mystic  nature,  furnishes  the  painter  with  the  beautiful  ideal 
more  perfect  and  more  divine  than  that  which  arises  from  a  ma 
terial  worship;  secondly,  that,  correcting  the  deformity  of  the 
passions,  or  powerfully  counteracting  them,  it  gives  a  more 
sublime  expression  to  the  human  countenance,  and  more  clearly 
displays  the  soul  in  the  muscles  and  conformation  of  the  body ; 
thirdly,  and  lastly,  that  it  has  furnished  the  arts  with  subjects 
more  beautiful,  more  rich,  more  dramatic,  more  pathetic,  than 
those  of  mythology. 

The  first  two  propositions  have  been  amply  discussed  in  our 
examination  of  poetry  j  we  shall,  therefore,  confine  cfur  attention 
to  the  third  only. 


378  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY 


CHAPTER  IV. 

OF   THE   SUBJECTS   OP   PICTURES. 

FUNDAMENTAL  truths. 

Firstly.  The  subjects  of  antiquity  continue  at  the  disposal  of 
modern  painters ;  thus,  in  addition  to  the  mythological  scenes, 
they  have  the  subjects  which  Christianity  presents. 

Secondly.  A  circumstance  which  shows  that  Christianity  has  a 
more  powerful  influence  over  genius  than  fable,  is  that  our  great 
masters,  in  general,  have  been  more  successful  in  sacred  than  in 
profane  subjects. 

Thirdly.  The  modern  styles  of  dress  are  ill  adapted  to  the  arts 
of  imitation ;  but  the  Catholic  worship  has  furnished  painting 
with  costumes  as  dignified  as  those  of  antiquity.1 

Pausanias,3  Pliny,3  and  Plutarch,4  have  left  us  a  description  of 
the  pictures  of  the  Greek  school.5  Zeuxis  took  for  the  subjects 
of  his  three  principal  productions,  Penelope,  Helen,  and  Cupid ; 
Polygnotus  had  depicted,  on  the  walls  of  the  temple  of  Delphi, 
the  sacking  of  Troy  and  the  descent  of  Ulysses  into  hell ;  Eu- 
phranor  painted  the  twelve  gods,  Theseus  giving  laws,  and  the 
battles  of  Cadmea,  Leuctra,  and  Mantinea;  Apelles  drew  Venus 
Anadyomene  with  the  features  of  Campaspe ;  ^Etion  represented 
the  -nuptials  of  Alexander  and  Roxana,  and  Timantes  delineated 
the  sacrifice  of  Iphigenia. 

Compare  these  subjects  with  the  Christian  subjects,  and  you 

1  These  costumes  of  the  fathers  and  the  first  Christians  (which  have  been 
transmitted  to  our  clergy)  are  no  other  than  the  robe  of  the  ancient  Greek 
philosophers,  denominated  irt.pi0o\aiov,  or  pallium.     It  was  even  a  cause  of  per 
secution  for  the  believers ;  for  when  the  Romans  or  the  Jews  perceived  them 
thus  attired,  they  would  exclaim,  O  rpaixo$  (nrfitrr)$,   Oh  the  Greek  impostor! 
(Jerom.,  ep.  10,  ad  Furiam.)     Consult  Kortholt.  de  Morib.  Christ.,  cap.  iii.  p. 
23,  and  Bar.,  an.  Ivi.  n.  11.     Tertullian  has  written  a  work  expressly  on  this 
subject,  (de  Pallio.) 

2  Paus.,  lib.  v.     '  3  PHn.,  lib.  xxxv.  c.  8  9. 
4  Plut.,  in  Hipp.,  Pomp.,  Lucul,  &c.  5  See  note  V. 


SUBJECTS   OF   PICTURES.  379 

will  perceive  their  inferiority.  The  sacrifice  of  Isaac,  for  ex 
ample,  is  in  a  more  simple  style  than  that  of  Iphigenia,  and  is 
equally  affecting.  Here  are  no  soldiers,  no  group  of  people,  none 
of  that  bustle  which  serves  to  draw  off  the  attention  from  the 
principal  action.  Here  is  the  solitary  summit  of  a  mountain,  a 
patriarch  who  numbers  a  century  of  years,  the  knife  raised  over 
an  only  son,  and  the  hand  of  God  arresting  the  paternal  arm. 
The  histories  of  the  Old  Testament  are  full  of  such  pictures ;  and 
it  is  well  known  how  highly  favorable  to  the  pencil  are  the  patri 
archal  manners,  the  costumes  of  the  East,  the  largeness  of  the 
animals  and  the  vastness  of  the  deserts  of  Asia. 

The  New  Testament  changes  the  genius  of  painting.  With 
out  taking  away  any  of  its  sublimity,  it  imparts  to  it  a  higher 
degree  of  tenderness.  Who  has  not  a  hundred  times  admired 
the  Nativity,  the  Virgin  and  Child,  the  Flight  in  the  Desert, 
the  Crowning  with  Thorn*,  the  Sacraments,  the  Mission  of  the 
Apostles,  the  Taking  down  from  the  Cross,  the  Women  at  the 
holy  Sepulchre.  Can  bacchanals,  festivals  of  Venus,  rapes,  meta 
morphoses,  affect  the  heart  like  the  pictures  taken  from  the  Scrip 
ture?  Christianity  everywhere  holds  forth  virtue  and  misfortune 
to  our  view,  and  polytheism  is  a  system  of  crimes  and  prosperity. 
Our  religion  is  our  own  history ;  it  was  for  us  that  so  many  tragic 
spectacles  were  given  to  the  world  :  we  are  parties  in  the  scenes 
which  the  pencil  exhibits  to  our  view.  A  Greek,  most  assuredly, 
felt  no  kind  of  interest  in  the  picture  of  a  demi-god  who  cared 
not  whether  he  was  happy  or  miserable ;  but  the  most  moral  and 
the  most  impressive  harmonies  pervade  the  Christian  subjects. 
Be  forever  glorified,  0  religion  of  Jesus  Christ,  that  hast  repre 
sented  in  the  Louvre1  the  Crucifixion  of  the  King  of  Kiiti/s,  the 
Last  Judgment  on  the  ceiling  of  our  court  of  justice,  a  Resurrec 
tion  at  the  public  hospital,  and  the  Birth  of  our  Saviour  in  the 
habitation  of  those  orphans  who  are  forsaken  both  by  father  and 
mother ! 

We  may  repeat  here,  respecting  the  subjects  of  pictures,  what 
we  have  said  elsewhere  concerning  the  subjects  of  poems.  Chris 
tianity  has  created  a  dramatic  department  in  painting  far  superior 
to  that  of  mythology.  It  is  religion  also  that  has  given  us  a  Claude 

1  The  Museum  of  the  Fine  Arts  at  Paris. 


380  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 


Loraine,  as  it  lias  furnished  us  with  a  Delille  and  a  St.  Lambert.1 
But  what  need  is  there  of  so  many  arguments  ?  Step  into  the 
gallery  of  the  Louvre,  and  then  assert,  if  you  can,  that  the  spirit 
of  Christianity  is  not  favorable  to  the  fine  arts. 


CHAPTER  V. 

SCULPTURE. 

WITH  a  few  variations  required  by  the  technical  part  of  the 
art,  our  remarks  on  painting  are  equally  applicable  to  sculpture. 

The  statue  of  Moses  by  Michael  Angelo,  at  Rome;  Adam  and 
Eve  by  Baccio,  at  Florence;  the  Vow  of  Louis  XIII.  by  Coustou, 
at  Paris;  St.  Denys  by  the  same;  the  tomb  of  Cardinal  Riche 
lieu,  the  production  of  the  joint  genius  of  Lebran  and  Grirardon; 
the  monument  of  Colbert,  executed  after  the  design  of  Lebrun, 
by  Coyzevox  and  Tuby;  Christ,  the  Mother  of  Pity,  and  the 
Eight  Apostles,  by  Bouchardon,  and  several  other  statues  of  the 
religious  kind,  prove  that  Christianity  understands  the  art  of  ani 
mating  the  marble  full  as  well  as  the  canvas. 

It  were,  however,  to  be  wished  that  sculptors  would  in  future 
banish  from  their  funeral  compositions  those  skeletons  which  they 
have  frequently  introduced  in  monuments.  Such  phantoms  are 
not  suggested  by  the  genius  of  Christianity,  which  depicts  death 
so  fair  for  the  righteous. 

It  is  equally  necessary  to  avoid  representations  of  corpses,8 
(however  meritorious  the  execution,)  or  humanity  sinking  under 
protracted  infirmities.3  A  warrior  expiring  on  the  field  of  honor 
in  the  full  vigor  of  manhood  may  be  very  fine;  but  a  body  emaci 
ated  by  disease  is  an  image  which  the  arts  reject,  unless  accom- 


1  See  note  W. 

2  As  in  the  mausoleum  of  Francis  I.  and  Anne  of  Bretagne. 
*  As  in  the  tomb  of  the  Duke  d'Harcourt. 


ARCHITECTURE.  381 


panied  by  some  miracle,  as  in  the  picture  of  St.  Charles  Borro- 
meo.1  Exhibit,  then,  upon  the  monument  of  the  Christian,  on 
the  one  hand  his  weeping  family  and  his  dejected  friends,  on 
the  other,  smiling  hope  and  celestial  joys.  Such  a  sepulchre,  dis 
playing  on  either  side  the  scenes  o'f  time  and  of  eternity,  would 
be  truly  admirable.  Death  might  make  his  appearance  there, 
but  under  the  features  of  an  angel  at  once  gentle  and  severe;  for 
the  tomb  of  the  righteous  ought  always  to  prompt  the  spectator 
to  exclaim,  with  St.  Paul,  0  grave,  where  u  thy  victory?  0 
death,  where  is  thy  sting  f 


CHAPTER  VI. 

ARCHITECTURE. 
Hotel  des  Invalides. 

IN  treating  of  the  influence  of  Christianity  on  the  arts,  there 
is  no  occasion  for  either  subtlety  or  eloquence.  The  monuments 
are  there  to  confute  the  depredators  of  religion.  It  is  sufficient, 
for  example,  to  mention  St.  Peter's  at  Rome,  St.  Sophia's  at 
Constantinople,  and  St.  Paul's  in  London,  to  prove  that  we  are 
indebted  to  religion  for  the  three  master-pieces  of  modern  archi 
tecture. 

In  architecture,  as  in  the  other  arts,  Christianity  has  re-esta 
blished  the  genuine  proportions.  Our  churches,  neither  so  small 
as  the  temples  of  Athens  nor  so  gigantic  as  those  of  Memphis, 
maintain  that  due  medium  in  which  beauty  and  taste  eminently 
reside.  By  means  of  the  dome,  unknown  to  the  ancients,  reli 
gion  has  produced  a  happy  combination  of  the  boldness  of  the 
Gothic  and  the  simplicity  and  grace  of  the  Grecian  orders. 

1  Painting  may  be  more  easily  reconciled  to  the  representation  >f  a  dead 
body  than  sculpture,  because  the  marble,  exhibiting  more  palpable  forms,  up 
proaches  too  near  to  the  truth. 


382  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

This  dome,  which  in  most  of  our  churches  is  transformed  into 
a  steeple,  imparts  to  our  hamlets  and  towns  a  moral  character 
which  the  cities  of  antiquity  could  not  possess.  The  eyes  of  the 
traveller  are  first  struck  by  that  religious  spire  the  sight  of  which 
awakens  in  his  bosom  a  multitude  of  feelings  and  recollections. 
It  is  the  funeral  pyramid  around  which  the  rude  forefathers  of 
the  hamlet  sleep;  but  it  is  also  the  monument  of  joy  beneath 
which  the  sacred  brass  records  the  life  of  the  believer.  Here 
husband  and  wife  are  united.  Here  Christians  fall  prostrate  at 
the  foot  of  the  altar, — the  weak  to  pray  to  the  God  of  might,  the 
guilty  to  implore  the  God  of  mercy,  the  innocent  to  sing  the 
praises  of  the  God  of  love.  Does  a  country-place  appear  naked, 
dreary,  and  desolate? — introduce  a  rural  steeple,  and  the  whole 
instantly  becomes  animated.  The  soothing  ideas  of  pastor  and 
flock,  of  an  asylum  for  the  traveller,  of  alms  for  the  pilgrim,  of 
hospitality  and  Christian  fraternity,  spring  up  on  every  side. 

The  more  those  ages  which  reared  our  monuments  were  dis 
tinguished  for  piety  and  faith,  the  more  striking  are  those  monu 
ments  for  grandeur  and  elevation  of  character.  Of  this  an  ex 
quisite  specimen  may  be  seen  in  the  Hotel  of  the  Invalids  and  the 
Military  School.  You  would  say  that,  at  the  voice  of  religion,  the 
domes  of  the  former  aspire  to  heaven,  while,  at  the  command  of  an 
atheistical  age,  the  latter  has  been  made  to  grovel  upon  the  earth. 

Three  sides,  forming  with  the  church  an  oblong  square,  com 
pose  the  whole  structure  of  the  Invalids.  But  what  perfect  taste 
in  this  simplicity !  What  beauty  in  that  court,  which,  neverthe 
less,  is  but  a  military  cloister,  where  art  has  blended  martial  with 
religious  ideas,  and  combined  the  image  of  a  camp  of  aged 
soldiers  with  the  affecting  recollections  of  an  hospital !  It  is  at 
once  the  monument  of  the  God  of  hosts  and  the  God  of  the  gos 
pel.  The  rust  of  years  with  which  it  begins  to  be  covered  gives 
it  a  noble  affinity  to  those  living  ruins — the  veterans  who  walk  be 
neath  its  ancient  porticos,  In  the  forecourts  every  thing  re 
minds  you  of  war — ditches,  glacis,  ramparts,  cannon,  tents,  senti 
nels.  Proceed,  and  the  noise  gradually  diminishes  till  it  wholly 
subsides  at  the  church,  where  profound  silence  reigns.  It  was  a 
grand  idea  to  place  the  religious  structure  in  the  rear  of  all  the 
military  edifices,  like  the  image  of  rest  and  hope  at  the  end  of  a 
life  exposed  to  a  thousand  hardships  and  dangers. 


VERSAILLES.  383 

The  age  of  Louis  XIV.  is  perhaps  the  only  one  that  has  duly 
appreciated  these  admirable  moral  harmonies,  and  always  per 
formed  in  the  arts  just  what  was  becoming,  without  doing  either 
too  little  or  too  much.  The  wealth  of  commerce  has  erected  the 
magnificent  colonnades  of  Greenwich  Hospital;  but  there  is 
something  prouder  and  more  imposing  in  the  general  mass  of  the 
Invalids.  You  are  convinced  that  a  nation  which  rears  such 
palaces  for  the  old  age  of  its  armies  has  received  the  sword  of 
might  as  well  as  the  sceptre  of  the  arts.1 


CHAPTER    VII 

VERSAILLES. 

PAINTING,  architecture,  poetry,  and  the  higher  species  of  elo 
quence,  have  invariably  degenerated  in  philosophic  ages;  because 
a  reasoning  spirit,  by  destroying  the  imagination,  undermines  the 
foundation  of  the  fine  arts.  We  fancy  ourselves  more  enlightened 
because  we  correct  a  few  errors  in  natural  philosophy,  substituting, 
however,  all  the  errors  of  reason  in  their  stead;  and  we  are,  in 
fact,  going  backward,  since  we  are  losing  one  of  the  finest  facul 
ties  of  the  mind. 

It  was  at  Versailles  that  all  the  splendors  of  the  religious  age 
of  France  were  combined.  Scarcely  a  century  has  elapsed  since 
those  groves  rang  with  the  sounds  of  festivity,  and  now  they  are 
animated  only  by  the  music  of  the  grasshopper  and  the  nightin 
gale.  This  palace,  which  of  itself  is  like  a  large  town, — those 
marble  staircases,  which  seem  to  ascend  to  the  skies, — those 
statues,  those  basins  of  water,  those  woods, — are  now  either  crum 
bling  into  ruin,  or  covered  with  moss,  or  dried  up,  or  overthrown; 
and  yet  this  abode  of  kings  never  appeared  more  magnificent  or 
less  solitary.  All  these  places  were  formerly  empty.  The  little 

1  Our  author's  subject  would  not  have  suffered  by  a  more  particular  notice  of 
SL  Peter's  at  Rome  and  St.  Paul's  Cathedral  in  London. 


384  GENIUS  OF  CHRISTIANITY. 

court  of  the  last  of  the  Bourbons  (before  adversity  had  completely 
overwhelmed  that  court)  seemed  lost  in  the  vast  habitation  of 
Louis  XIV. 

When  time  has  given  a  mortal  blow  to  empires,  some  great 
name  associates  itself  with  them  and  covers  their  relics.  If  the 
noble  poverty  of  the  soldier  has  now  succeeded  the  magnificence 
of  courts  at  Versailles, — if  the  views  of  miracles  and  martyrs  have 
there  taken  the  place  of  profane  pictures, — why  should  the  shade 
of  Louis  XIV.  be  offended  ?  He  conferred  lustre  on  religion,  on 
the  arts,  and  on  the  army.  It  is  consistent,  therefore,  that  the 
ruins  of  his  palace  should  afford  an  asvluin  to  the  ruins  of  the 
army,  of  the  arts,  and  of  religion. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

GOTHIC     CHURCHES. 

EVERT  thing  ought  to  be  in  its  proper  place.  This  is  a  truth 
become  trite  by  repetition;  but  without  its  due  observance  there 
can  be  nothing  perfect.  The  Greeks  would  not  have  been  better 
pleased  with  an  Egyptian  temple  at  Athens  than  the  Egyptians 
with  a  Greek  temple  at  Memphis.  These  two  monuments,  by 
changing  places,  would  have  lost  their  principal  beauty;  that  is 
to  say,  their  relations  with  the  institutions  and  habits  of  the  peo 
ple.  This  reflection  is  equally  applicable  to  the  ancient  monu 
ments  of  Christianity.  It  is  even  curious  to  remark  how  readily 
the  poets  and  novelists  of  this  infidel  age,  by  a  natural  return  to 
ward  the  manners  of  our  ancestors,  introduce  dungeons,  spectres, 
castles,  and  Gothic  churches,  into  their  fictions, — so  great  is  the 
charm  of  recollections  associated  with  religion  and  the  history  of 
our  country.  Nations  do  not  throw  aside  their  ancient  customs 
as  people  do  their  old  clothes.  Some  part  of  them  may  be  dis 
carded;  but  there  will  remain  a  portion,  which  with  the  new 
manners  will  form  a  very  strange  mixture. 


GOTHIC  CHURCHES*.  385 


In  vain  would  you  build  Grecian  temples,  ever  so  elegant  and 
well-lighted,  for  the  purpose  of  assembling  the  good  people  of 
St.  Louis  and  Queen  Blanche,  and  making  them  adore  a  meta 
physical  God;  they  would  still  regret  those  Notre  Dames  of 
Rheims  and  Paris, — those  venerable  cathedrals,  overgrown  with 
inoss,  full  of  generations  of  the  dead  and  the  ashes  of  their 
forefathers ;  they  would  still  regret  the  tombs  of  those  heroes, 
the  Montmorencys,  on  which  they  loved  to  kneel  during  mass; 
to  say  nothing  of  the  sacred  fonts  to  which  they  were  carried  at 
their  birth.  The  reason  is  that  all  these  things  are  essentially 
interwoven  with  their  manners ;  that  a  monument  i«  not  vene 
rable,  unless  a  long  history  of  the  past  be,  as  it  were,  inscribed 
beneath  its  vaulted  canopy,  black  with  age.  For  this  reason, 
also,  there  is  nothing  marvellous  in  a  temple  whose  erection  we 
have  witnessed,  whose  echoes  and  whose  domes  were  formed 
before  our  eyes.  God  is  the  eternal  law;  his  origin,  and  what 
ever  relates  to  his  worship,  ought  to  be  enveloped  in  the  night 
of  time. 

You  could  not  enter  a  Gothic  church  without  feeling  a  kind 
of  awe  and  a  vague  sentiment  of  the  Divinity.  You  were  all  at 
once  carried  back  to  those  times  when  a  fraternity  of  ceuobites, 
after  having  meditated  in  the  woods  of  their  monasteries,  met 
to  prostrate  themselves  before  the  altar  and  to  chant  the 
praises  of  the  Lord,  amid  the  tranquillity  and  the  silence  of 
night.  Ancient  France  seemed  to  revive  altogether;  you  beheld 
all  those  singular  costumes,  all  that  nation  so  different  from  what 
it  is  at  present;  you  were  reminded  of  its  revolutions,  its  pro 
ductions,  and  its  arts.  The  more  remote  were  these  times  the 
more  magical  they  appeared,  the  more  they  inspired  ideas  which 
always  end  with  a  reflection  on  the  nothingness  of  man  and  the 
rapidity  of  life. 

The  Gothic  style,  notwithstanding  its  barbarous  proportions, 
possesses  a  beauty  peculiar  to  itself.1 


1  Gothic  architecture,  as  well  as  the  sculpture  in  the  same  stylo,  is  supposed 
to  have  been  derived  from  the  Arabs.  Its  affinity  to  the  monuments  of 
Egypt  would  rather  lead  us  to  imagine  that  it  was  transmitted  to  us  by 
ihe  first  Christians  of  the  East;  but  we  are  more  inclined  to  refer  its  origin 
to  nature. 

33  Z 


386  GENIUS  OF  CHKISTIANITY. 

The  forests  were  the  first  temples  of  the  Divinity,  and  in 
them  men  acquired  the  first  idea  of  architecture.  This  art 
must,  therefore,  have  varied  according  to  climates.  The  Greeks 
turned  the  elegant  Corinthian  column,  with  its  capital  of  foliage, 
after  the  model  of  the  palm-tree.1  The  enormous  pillars  of  the 
ancient  Egyptian  style  represent  the  massive  sycamore,  the 
oriental  fig,  the  banana,  and  most  of  the  gigantic  trees  of 
Africa  and  Asia. 

The  forests  of  Gaul  were,  in  their  turn,  introduced  into  the 
temples  of  our  ancestors,  and  those  celebrated  woods  of  oaks 
thus  maintained  their  sacred  character.  Those  ceilings  sculp 
tured  into  foliage  of  different  kinds,  those  buttresses  which 
prop  the  walls  and  terminate  abruptly  like  the  broken  trunks 
of  trees,  the  coolness  of  the  vaults,  the  darkness  of  the 
sanctuary,  the  dim  twilight  of  the  aisles,  the  secret  passages, 
the  low  doorways, — in  a  word,  every  thing  in  a  Gothic 
church  reminds  you  of  the  labyrinths  of  a  wood;  every  thing 
excites  a  feeling  of  religious  awe,  of  mystery,  and  of  the 
Divinity. 

The  two  lofty  towers  erected  at  the  entrance  of  the  edifice 
overtop  the  elms  and  yew-trees  of  the  churchyard,  and  produce 
the  most  picturesque  effect  on  the  azure  of  heaven.  Sometimes 
their  twin  heads  are  illumined  by  the  first  rays  of  dawn;  at 
others  they  appear  crowned  with  a  capital  of  clouds  or  magni 
fied  in  a  foggy  atmosphere.  The  birds  themselves  seem  to  make 
a  mistake  in  regard  to  them,  and  to  take  them  for  the  trees  of 
the  forest ;  they  hover  over  their  summits,  and  perch  upon  their 
pinnacles.  But,  lo !  confused  noises  suddenly  issue  from  the 
top  of  these  towers  and  scare  away  the  affrighted  birds.  The 
Christian  architect,  not  content  with  building  forests,  has  been 


i  Vitruvius  gives  a  different  account  of  the  invention  of  the  Corinthian 
capital;  but  this  does  not  confute  the  general  principle  that  architecture 
originated  in  the  woods.  We  are  only  astonished  that  there  should  not  be 
more  variety  in  the  column,  after  the  varieties  of  trees.  We  have  a  conception, 
for  example,  of  a  column  that  might  be  termed  Palmist,  and  be  a  natural 
representation  of  the  palm-tree.  An  orb  of  foliage  slightly  bowed  and  sculp 
tured  on  the  top  of  a  light  shaft  of  marble  would,  in  our  opinion,  produce  a 
very  pleasing  effect  in  a  portico. 


GOTHIC  CHURCHES.  387 


desirous  to  retain  their  murmurs ;  and,  by  means  of  the  organ 
and  of  bells,  he  has  attached  to  the  Gothic  temple  the  very 
winds  and  thunders  that  roar  in  the  recesses  of  the  woods.  Past 
ages,  conjured  up  by  these  religious  sounds,  raise  their  venerable 
voices  from  the  bosom  of  the  stones,  and  are  heard  in  every 
corner  of  the  vast  cathedral.  The  sanctuary  re-echoes  like  the 
cavern  of  the  ancient  Sibyl ;  loud-tongued  bells  swing  over  your 
head,  while  the  vaults  of  death  under  your  feet  are  profoundly 
silent 


BOOK  II. 

PHILOSOPHY. 
CHAPTER  I. 

ASTRONOMY   AND    MATHEMATICS. 

LET  us  now  consider  the  effects  of  Christianity  upco  literature 
in  general.  It  may  be  classed  under  these  three  principal  heads  : 
— philosophy,  history,  and  eloquence. 

By  philosophy  we  here  mean  the  study  of  every  species  of 
science. 

It  will  be  seen  that,  in  defending  religion,  we  by  no  means 
attack  wisdom.  Far  be  it  from  us  to  confound  sophistical  pride 
with  the  solid  qualifications  of  the  mind  and  heart.  Genuine 
philosophy  is  the  innocence  of  the  old  age  of  nations,  when  they 
have  ceased  to  possess  virtues  by  instinct,  and  owe  such  as  they 
have  to  reason.  This  second  innocence  is  less  certain  than  the 
first,  but,  when  it  can  be  attained,  it  is  more  sublime. 

On  whatever  side  you  view  the  religion  of  the  gospel,  you 
find  that  it  enlarges  the  understanding  and  tends  to  expand 
the  feelings.  In  the  sciences,  its  tenets  are  not  hostile  to  any 
natural  truth;  its  doctrine  forbids  not  any  study.  Among  the 
ancients,  a  philosopher  was  continually  meeting  with  some 
divinity  in  his  way;  he  was  doomed  by  the  priests  of  Jupiter  or 
Apollo,  under  pain  of  death  or  exile,  to  be  absurd  all  his  life. 
But,  as  the  God  of  the  Christians  has  not  confined  himself  within 
the  narrow  limits  of  a  sun,  he  has  left  all  the  luminaries  of 
heaven  open  to  the  researches  of  scholars :  "  He  hath  delivered 
the  world  to  their  consideration/'1  The  natural  philosopher 
may  weigh  the  air  in  his  tube  without  any  apprehension  of 
offending  Juno ;  it  is  not  of  the  elements  of  his  body,  but  of 
the  virtues  of  his  soul,  that  the  Supreme  Judge  will  one  day 
require  an  account. 

1  Ecclesiastes  iii.  11. 


ASTRONOMY  AND  MATHEMATICS.  389 

We  are  aware  that  we  shall  not  fail  to  be  reminded  of  certain 
bulls  of  the  Holy  See,  or  certain  decrees  of  the  Sorbonne,  which 
condemn  this  or  that  philosophical  discovery ;  but,  on  the  other 
hand,  how  many  ordinances  of  the  court  of  Rome  in  favor  of 
these  same  discoveries  might  we  not  enumerate  !  What  can  be 
said  in  this  case,  except  that  the  clergy,  who  are  men  like 
ourselves,  have  shown  themselves  more  or  less  enlightened, 
according  to  the  natural  course  of  ages  ?  If  Christianity  itself 
has  neve'r  appeared  in  opposition  to  the  sciences,  we  have  a  suffi 
cient  authorization  for  our  first  assertion. 

Let  it  be  observed  that  the  Church  has  at  all  periods  pro 
tected  the  arts,  though  she  has  sometimes  discouraged  abstract 
studies;  and  in  this  she  has  displayed  her  accustomed  wisdom. 
In  vain  do  men  perplex  their  understandings ;  they  never  will 
fully  comprehend  any  thing  in  nature,  because  it  is  not